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US urges North Korea to release detained American

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A North Korean flag hangs inside the interior of Pyongyangs Supreme Court. North Korea says it will soon deliver a verdict in the case of detained American Kenneth Bae it accuses of trying to overthrow the government, further complicating already fraught relations between Pyongyang and Washington. The announcement about Bae comes in the middle of a lull after weeks of war threats and other provocative acts by North Korea against the U.S. and South Korea. (AP)

The U.S. is calling on North Korea to immediately release on humanitarian grounds an American citizen facing charges that carry the death penalty.

North Korea announced Saturday that Kenneth Bae will be tried in the authoritarian nation's Supreme Court on charges of plotting to overthrow the government.

State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell called for Bae's release at a news conference in Washington Monday.

He said the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang was able to visit Bae on Friday. Sweden provides consular services for the U.S. with Pyongyang.

According to state media, Bae, a tour operator of Korean descent, was arrested in early November in a special economic zone near the Chinese border.

The exact nature of his alleged crimes has not been disclosed.