The mother of the U.S. soldier who is reportedly being detained by North Korean officials after allegedly crossing into the country without authorization has spoken out, rejecting claims her son did so intentionally.
“I can’t see Travis doing anything like that,” Claudine Gates told ABC News in a Tuesday night report. Gates added that when she spoke to her son, whom U.S. officials have identified as 23-year-old Pvt. Travis King, a few days prior, he told her he would be returning to Fort Bliss.
Prior to his reported detainment in North Korea, King had been in custody at a South Korean detention facility after an incident with local residents, according to ABC. After serving 47 days in the detention facility, King was reportedly put under observation at a U.S. military base in South Korea.
North Korea has been silent about an American soldier’s crossing of the Koreas’ heavily fortified border, but the mother of Private 2nd Class Travis King told ABC News she was shocked and just wants “him to come home.” https://t.co/ECFEdfVH36
— The Associated Press (@AP) July 19, 2023
King out-processed from the U.S. base July 17 and was escorted to the customs checkpoint at Incheon International Airport with an ultimate destination of Fort Bliss, the outlet reported. Upon arrival at Fort Bliss, King was expected to face “pending administrative separation actions for foreign conviction,” according to a U.S. official cited by ABC.
King instead reportedly left the terminal and found himself on a DMZ tour. (RELATED: ‘Bad Joke’: Soldier Detained In North Korea Ran Across Border Laughing after Escaping From Escort, Witness Says)
“We’re very early in this event and so there’s a lot that we’re still trying to learn,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at a Tuesday news conference, ABC reported. “What we do know is that one of our service members who was on a tour willfully and without authorization crossed the military demarcation line. We believe that he is in DPRK custody. We’re closely monitoring and investigating the situation, and working to notify the soldier’s next of kin and engaging to address this incident.”
Gates told ABC she just wants her son to come home.