Administration says it's doing all it can for Americans in North Korea

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Associated Press

Posted on September 1, 2014 at 4:00 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration says it's doing all it can to win the "earliest possible release" of three Americans being held in North Korea.

National Security Council spokesman Patrick Ventrell says the White House has "closely" followed their cases, and that securing the release of U.S. citizens is a "top priority."

The three Americans were allowed to speak to foreign media today, under the watchful eye of North Korean officials.

Two of them -- Jeffrey Fowle and Matthew Miller -- say they expect to face trial within a month. But they say they don't know what punishment could be in store for them, or what the specific charges are.

Also allowed to speak was Kenneth Bae (bay), a third American who is already serving a 15-year term. He says his health has deteriorated at a labor camp where he works eight hours a day.

All said they believe the only solution to their situation is for a U.S. representative to come to North Korea to make a direct appeal.

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APPHOTO XWM311: Mathew Miller, an American detained in North Korea, speaks to the Associated Press, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea has given foreign media access to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and watched by officials as they spoke, called for Washington to send a representative to negotiate for their freedom. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E) (1 Sep 2014)

<<APPHOTO XWM311 (09/01/14)££

APPHOTO NY114: In this photo combo, from left to right, Mathew Miller, Jeffrey Fowle and Kenneth Bae, who are all Americans being detained in North Korea, speak to The Associated Press, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea gave foreign media access on Monday to the three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and, watched by officials as they spoke, called for Washington to send a high-ranking representative to negotiate for their freedom. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E) (1 Sep 2014)

<<APPHOTO NY114 (09/01/14)££

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