The family of detained Korean American Kenneth Bae, held captive in North Korea for over a year, responded angrily to an interview Dennis Rodman gave from Pyongyang Tuesday in which the former NBA star implied Bae was guilty and would not agree to leverage his friendship with Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un during his "basketball diplomacy" visit to North Korea to effect Bae's release.
Kenneth Bae was arrested in November 2012 for "hostile acts" and sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor.
In Rodman's exclusive interview on CNN's New Day with Chris Cuomo on Tuesday, Rodman appeared increasingly agitated, implying unspecified wrongdoing by Bae and launching into a defense of his controversial "basketball diplomacy" visits to North Korea.
Bae's sister, Terri Chung, spoke with CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 on Tuesday about Rodman's comments, saying that she and her family were "appalled" that Rodman, in a position to use his North Korean connections to help a detained American, used the interview to allege Bae was guilty.
"He was in a position to do some good and to help advocate for Kenneth... He refused to do so. But then instead he has chosen to hurl these outrageous accusations against Kenneth. He clearly doesn't know anything about Kenneth, about his case. And so we were appalled by that."
Chung added that she hopes one of the former professional basketball players who accompanied Rodman to North Korea for a basketball exhibition will ask for amnesty for her brother.
At Tuesday's White House daily press briefing, White House spokesman Jay Carney said in regard to Rodman's CNN interview, "I am not going to dignify that outburst with a response" but that "I am simply going to say that we remain gravely concerned about Kenneth Bae's health and continue to urge the DPRK authorities to grant his amnesty and immediate release on humanitarian grounds."
Rodman's January visit comes nearly a month after Kim Jong Un had his uncle and former mentor executed for treason. Relations between North Korea and the United States are increasingly strained. In addition to detaining Bae, North Korea detained an 85-year old American Korean War veteran for over a month prior to his December 2013 release.