Travis King, Army private who fled to North Korea, charged with desertion

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Travis King, the US Army private who fled to North Korea in July, has been charged by the Army with desertion, among other crimes, according to a charging document seen by CNN Thursday.

King, who was released from North Korean custody and returned to the United States last month, was charged with a series of other alleged offenses, including possession of child pornography, assaulting fellow soldiers, and disobeying a superior officer, according to the document. He was charged with eight counts total.

King, 23, was detained Wednesday at Ft. Bliss, Texas, according to a source familiar, who told CNN that he is being held in pre-trial detention.

In a statement shared with CNN, King’s mother, Claudine Gates, said she loves her son “unconditionally” and is “extremely concerned about his mental health.”

“As his mother, I ask that my son be afforded the presumption of innocence,” she said.

“A mother knows her son, and I believe something happened to mine while he was deployed. The Army promised to investigate what happened at Camp Humphries, and I await the results,” Gates added.

CNN has reached out to the Army for comment.

King returned to US soil in late September after US officials said he “willfully and without authorization” crossed into North Korea in July.

Shortly before fleeing, King had been released from detention in South Korea related to an October 2022 incident in which he allegedly pushed and punched a victim in the face at a club in Seoul, according to court documents.

King was supposed to board a flight to Texas where he was to face disciplinary procedures, but when he was released at a security checkpoint at the airport in Seoul, King left and the next day joined a tour of Joint Security Area in the demilitarized zone, from which he fled across the demarcation line into North Korea.

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