Three Americans detained in North Korea spoke out about their conditions and pleaded for U.S. help in interviews with CNN.
Kenneth Bae, Matthew Todd Miller and Jeffrey Edward Fowle were presented to CNN's Will Ripley at a Pyongyang hotel Monday. Each was given five minutes for an interview.
All three men said they hope the U.S. government will send an envoy to North Korea to help get them out of their situations, similar to how former President Bill Clinton helped secure the release of two journalists in 2009.
Bae, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence for "hostile acts to bring down its government," said he is working eight hours a day, six days a week at a labor camp.
North Korea claimed Bae was part of a Christian plot to overthrow the regime.
"Right now what I can say to my friends and family is, continue to pray for me," he said.
Despite what he called "hard labor," Bae said he has been treated "as humanely as possible."
Miller, who is accused of tearing up his tourist visa and seeking asylum upon entry, implored the U.S. government for help during his interview.
He said he wanted to tell the United States that "my situation is very urgent, that very soon I am going to trial, and I would directly be sent to prison."
He said he will not learn of his charges until he goes to trial.
Fowle, an American tourist accused of leaving a Bible in a hotel where he was staying, said he has "no complaints" about his treatment.
"It's been very good so far, and I hope and pray that it continues, while I'm here two more days or two more decades," he said.
All three men said they have signed statements admitting their guilt. North Korean officials monitored and recorded all three interviews, and CNN was unable to assess independently the conditions under which the men were being held.
U.S. National Security Council spokesman Patrick Ventrell said Monday that securing the Americans' release "is a top priority and we have followed these cases closely in the White House. We continue to do all we can to secure their earliest possible release."
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, "There is no greater priority for us than the welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad.
"Out of humanitarian concern for Jeffrey Fowle, Matthew Miller, and their families, we request the DPRK release them so they may return home," Psaki said, using the initials for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. "We also request the DPRK pardon Kenneth Bae and grant him special amnesty and immediate release so he may reunite with his family and seek medical care. We continue to work actively to secure these three U.S. citizens' release."
The Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang acts as the "protecting power for issues involving U.S. citizens in North Korea," and the United States is in "regular, close coordination" with the embassy, she said. Swedish representatives visited Fowle on June 20, Miller on May 9 and June 21, and Bae 12 times since his detention, most recently on August 11 in a labor camp, Psaki said.
The circumstances leading up to the CNN interviews were bizarre.
A CNN team was on a government tour about two hours outside Pyongyang when it learned it had to leave immediately to meet with a high-level government official in the capital.
The crew boarded a van to a secret location, where it found out the meeting was with the three Americans.
Bae's family has been pushing for his release due to his worsening health. The 46-year-old suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure and has kidney stones.
"I've been going back and forth between hospital and to the labor camp for the last year and a half," Bae told Ripley on Monday.
He said his health has "been failing" over the past 1½ months.
"My hands are numb and tingling, and it's difficult sleeping at night, and I was working in the field every day," Bae said.