US veteran says N. Korea 'confession' made under duress

US veteran says N. Korea 'confession' made under duress
Merrill Newman, an 85 year-old retired American soldier freed from North Korea on Saturday, speaks with reporters at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco.

LOS ANGELES - A US Korean war veteran held for over a month in North Korea said Monday that a video "confession" released during his detention was made under duress.

Eighty-five year-old Merrill Newman, who was released last week and is now back home in California, said he was warned that he could be jailed for 15 years for spying if he did not cooperate.

Newman, who was on a guided tourist trip to the reclusive state, added that he believes North Korean authorities misunderstood his "curiosity as something more sinister" when he asked about North Korean war veterans.

The US retiree was plucked off a plane on October 26 as he was leaving Pyongyang following a tourist visit. He was eventually freed and arrived back in California on Saturday.

He said a video "confession" was written for him by a non-native English speaker, adding that he emphasised the mistakes when he read it out, so that his family and others would know they were not his own words.

"Anyone who has read the text of it or who has seen the video of me reading it knows that the words were not mine and were not delivered voluntarily," he said in a statement.

"Anyone who knows me knows that I could not have done the things they had me 'confess' to."

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