Several news outlets reported Monday that former President Jimmy Carter may travel to North Korea to secure the release of Kenneth Bae, who's been imprisoned in North Korea for nine months.
The unconfirmed reports raised hopes for Bae's family members, though they said they had not been informed of any specific plans to seek his release.
Bae, who attended the University of Oregon and has family in the Seattle suburbs, is serving a 15-year sentence of hard labor for alleged crimes against the North Korean government.
In recent days, Asian news outlets reported that Jimmy Carter was planning a trip to North Korea to help broker his release. But the Carter Center said the former president has no immediate plans to visit the reclusive nation.
Bae’s sister, Terri Chung, said she heard the same response Monday morning from a Carter Center spokesperson.
Chung also said that State Department officials reassure her family every week that they are doing everything possible. “I believe that the US government wants to see this American home, but when it’s your family member, just nothing is enough until he’s home,” she said.
Chung said her family is frustrated. Worries also escalated this month after Bae’s letters home said that his health is failing.
In the past, Americans jailed in North Korea have only been released after visits from high-profile US diplomats. Carter flew there in 2010 to help with the release of a man from Boston.