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US Army charges Travis King with desertion for crossing into North Korea: Report

US Army charges Travis King with desertion for crossing into North Korea: Report

Army private Travis King, who bolted to North Korea earlier this year, has been charged with a host of crime from the U.S. ranging from desertion to possessing child pornography, according to a report from Reuters.

King faces eight total charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which also include making false statements and disobeying superior officers.

American soldier Travis King

This undated photo shows Travis King, the American soldier who officials say currently is being detained in North Korea. (Facebook)

According to Reuters, the Army has charged him of broad misconduct prior to his escape to North Korea, including a previous attempted escape from U.S. military custody in October 2022. 

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King has also been accused of soliciting a Snapchat user in July 2023 to “knowingly and willingly produce child pornography.” He was also accused of possession of child pornography.

He was also charged with insubordination for leaving his base after curfew and drinking alcohol in violation of Army regulations.

Travis King

This family photo shows a portrait of American soldier Travis King displayed at the home of his grandfather Carl Gates, Wednesday, July 19, 2023, in Kenosha, Wis. Pvt. King bolted into North Korea while on a tour of the Demilitarized Zone on Tuesday, July 18, a day after he was supposed to travel to a base in the U.S.  (Family Photo via AP)

According to a statement, obtained by Reuters, a family spokesperson, King’s mother, Claudine Gates, asked that her 23-year-old son “be afforded the presumption of innocence.”

“The man I raised, the man I dropped off at boot camp, the man who spent the holidays with me before deploying did not drink,” Gates said. “A mother knows her son, and I believe something happened to mine while he was deployed. The Army promised to investigate what happened at Camp Humphreys, and I await the results.”

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King, a Private 2nd Class in the U.S. Army who has served since 2021, entered North Korea on foot on July 18, when he reportedly sprinted away from a tour group into the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea.

The incident happened after King finished approximately two months in a South Korean detention facility following a physical altercation with locals, a senior defense official previously told Fox News. Throughout the time he was held at the facility, he made comments that he did not want to come back to America, according to a U.S. official. 

Korean Peninsula Demilitarized Zone

A United Nations Command soldier (L) and a South Korean soldier (R) stand near North Korea’s Panmon Hall (top rear C) at Panmunjom, in the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on Oct. 4, 2022. (ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Image)

North Korea’s state media reported that King confessed to crossing into the North because of “inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. Army.”

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“During the investigation, Travis King confessed that he had decided to come over to the DPRK as he harbored ill feeling against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. Army,” state media outlet Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. “He also expressed his willingness to seek refuge in the DPRK or a third country, saying that he was disillusioned at the unequal American society.”

King, officials exiting a plane

American soldier Travis King arrives in US after release from North Korea. (Reuters)

King was eventually returned to U.S. custody in September. 

“The relevant organ of the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] decided to expel Travis King, a soldier of the U.S. Army who illegally intruded into the territory of the DPRK, under the law of the Republic,” KCNA wrote, according to translations provided by Yonhap News Agency.

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King was flown to a military hospital in Texas on Sept. 28 for medical and mental health evaluations.

Details are still scarce about King’s treatment in North Korean custody and the soldier has not publicly explained why he fled to one of the world’s most reclusive nations.

Reuters, Timothy Nerozzi and Liz Friden contributed to this report.

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