A local man being detained in North Korea after being accused of crimes against the state said his actions were “premeditated,” according to a report from a pro-government news agency.
West Carrollton resident Jeffrey Fowle, who is awaiting trial, said he secretly tried to circulate a Bible during the overseas trip that started in late April, according to the Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korea daily published in Japan.
The 56-year-old Beavercreek High School graduate and former Moraine city worker was arrested in May for leaving a copy of the Bible in the toilet of a sailor’s club in the northeastern city of Chongjin, where he was traveling as a tourist, according to Reuters.
“It was my premeditated act that did not fit the purpose of my trip as a tourist,” Fowle was quoted as saying, translated by the Choson Sinbo newspaper into Korean.
Fowle’s family has denied he was on a church mission.
The report said the interview was conducted on Fowle’s request, according to Reuters.
Fowle is one of three Americans – along with Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller — held in North Korea on charges of crimes against the state.
The longest to be held is Bae, a U.S. missionary who was sentenced last year to 15 years hard labor. Miller last month was convicted and sentenced by the country’s Supreme Court to six years of hard labor.
Fowle has said in interviews in recent weeks that he was concerned about his trial, which apparently has not been scheduled yet. In this most recent interview, he reiterated those thoughts, according to Reuters.
“I am anxious about the impending trial. I am just nervous, thinking that punishment will be given for the wrongdoing I have committed,” Fowle told Choson Sinbo.
Fowle’s captivity led last month to him losing his job with the city of Moraine, where he had worked for more than 26 years and had been on accumulated leave since May.
The city agreed to pay him more than $70,000 based on leave he had remaining and gave him the ability to be reinstated, calling him an employee in “good standing,” according to documents obtained by this newspaper.