Charges Filed Against Army Private Who Defected to North Korea

( – The U.S. Army private who fled to North Korea earlier this year now faces eight charges from the Army, including desertion, assault, and possession of child pornography, CBS News reported.

Private 2nd Class Travis King, who is also charged with disobeying senior officers and making false statements, walked across the demilitarized zone into North Korea in July after hiding among a group of people taking a guided tour of the South Korean border village of Panmunjom.

Just one week earlier, King was being escorted to the airport in Seoul where he was to board a plane bound for Fort Bliss in Texas to face disciplinary actions and discharge.

King had been serving as part of the Defense Department’s regular Korean Force Rotation at the time and had spent around two months in a South Korean jail charged with assault for kicking a police patrol car and shouting obscenities at South Korean police officers.

After detaining King for around two months, Pyongyang announced in September that it was expelling King from North Korea. He was returned to US custody and flown to Texas, according to the Associated Press.

If King is convicted of peacetime desertion, he could face up to three years in prison.

According to charging documents, King is also accused of punching and kicking other officers last year, as well as the unlawful possession of alcohol, and possession of a video of child pornography.

In a statement, Pvt. King’s mother Claudine Gates said she was “extremely concerned” about the mental health of her son, whom she loves “unconditionally.” Gates appeared to blame her son’s military deployment for his crimes, arguing that the man she raised and spent holidays with after he enlisted in the Army “did not drink.” She said she believed that “something happened” to her son during his deployment.

Gates asked that her son be given the “presumption of innocence.”

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