WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- A U.S. congressman said public pressure could sway North Korea to release imprisoned American Kenneth Bae.
Rep. Charles Rangle, D-N.Y., said on CNN Saturday that increasing calls for Bae's release at the grassroots level might convince Pyongyang to let him go.
"Churches and synagogues should be pleading to this government that this has nothing to do with communism and the United States of America," said Rangle. "It is a brother and a father and a son, and they should be responding to this effort."
Bae, 45, was arrested in North Korea in 2012 on charges he was trying to use his Christian convictions to stir up a rebellion. He was in North Korea on business for his China-based company that arranges tours of the tightly controlled state.
Bae was recently moved from a hospital to a North Korean labor camp. His sister, Terri Chung, called the transfer "devastating" news.
"We are really discouraged and concerned," Chung told CNN.
The U.S. government also expressed concern for Bae and reiterated its demand that he be released. A State Department spokeswoman, however, denied a North Korean media report that a U.S. special envoy would travel to Pyongyang as early as this week to discuss Bae's predicament.