Three American prisoners held in North Korea call on the White House for help

Kenneth Bae (center)Facebook

Three Americans being held in North Korea were allowed to speak to the media on Monday, and plead for their release.

Kenneth Bae, Jeffrey Fowle, and Matthew Miller called on the White House to send a high-ranking official to negotiate their release, and delivered messages to their families back home, the Associated Press reports.

Fowle has been held captive by the North Korean government since around the time of his arrival in the country on April 29. He is accused of leaving a Bible in a nightclub, and is expected to face trial within a month for proselytising. His hometown is Miamisburg, Ohio, where he has a wife and three children.

"Within a month I could be sharing a jail cell with Ken Bae," Fowle told Associated Press reporters. "I'm desperate to get back to them."

Jeffrey FowleCity of Moraine

The atheist country has held Korean-American Kenneth Bae in prison for over 20 months—the longest North Korean imprisonment of an American since the Korean War. Bae was working in the country as a tour guide, but officials allege that Bae's North Korean tour company was a front for Christian evangelical missions.

"The only hope that I have is to have someone from the U.S. come," he said. "But so far, the latest I've heard is that there has been no response yet. So I believe that officials here are waiting for that."

Comments attributed to Bae last month indicated that he felt abandoned by the U.S. government.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the administration is still trying to secure his release."We are very concerned about his health," she told reporters in July.

"We have urged the [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] authorities to grant him special amnesty and immediate release on humanitarian grounds."

She also warned not to take the published statements attributed to Bae to heart.

"I would just take with a grain of salt things people say in videos when they are being held by a country like North Korea," Harf said.

North Korea alleged that Matthew Miller arrived in their country, tore up his tourist visa, and proclaimed that he is seeking asylum in the country. Miller refused to comment on whether that allegation is correct. He has been detained since April 10.