Thu. Feb 22nd, 2024

The US Army has charged defector Travis King with several offenses including desertion for sprinting into North Korea in July — as well as the solicitation of child pornography and other crimes dating back to at least last year.

The wide-ranging case against King, who spent over two months in the custody of North Korean law enforcement, includes eight distinct charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, according to court records obtained by Reuters.

The Army claims the private had the intention of abandoning his military duties permanently when he ditched his South Korean post by running across the demilitarized border into the totalitarian country.

He “did remain so absent in desertion until on or about 27 September 2023,” when the hermit kingdom released him back to the US, the court records state.

The Army’s charge sheet accuses King of broad misconduct before his defection into North Korea, including an alleged attempted escape from US military custody in October 2022.

Travis King has been charged by the US army for fleeing over to North Korea in July, as well as the solicitation of child pornography and other crimes dating back to at least last year.VIA REUTERS

King was also allegedly caught possessing child pornography and asked another individual over Snapchat to “knowingly and willingly produce child pornography” the same month he fled to North Korea, according to the charges.

The Wisconsin native was additionally hit with assault charges for allegedly targeting his fellow soldiers and insubordination for leaving his base after curfew and drinking alcohol in violation of Army regulations, the documents state.

The soldier’s family has stood behind King since he first bolted in July, stating he should “be afforded the presumption of innocence.”

King is seen arriving in San Antonio on Sept. 28, 2023 after being freed from North Korea weeks after he had crossed into the country. CNN

“The man I raised, the man I dropped off at boot camp, the man who spent the holidays with me before deploying did not drink,” his mother, Claudine Gates, said in a statement.

“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 Humphreys, and I await the results.”

The family has hired a legal team to defend him that includes Franklin Rosenblatt, who served as lead military defense counsel during the court martial proceedings against Bowe Bergdahl, the Army sergeant who was held for five years by the Taliban after walking off his post in Afghanistan in 2009.

A TV screen shows a file image of American soldier Travis King during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea on Aug. 16, 2023. AP

Details are still scarce about King’s treatment in North Korean custody and the soldier has not publicly explained why he fled to one of the world’s most reclusive nations.

King was supposed to be at the airport awaiting a flight to Texas before making the final trip home when he escaped.

He was facing military disciplinary charges — as well as a dishonorable discharge — back in the US after he was hit with two assault charges.

King was accused of punching a man several times in the face at a club in September 2022 and then, two weeks later, damaged the backseat of a police car in a profanity-laced tirade against Koreans after he was picked up for displaying “aggressive behavior.”

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