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Travis King: US soldier who fled to North Korea hit with child abuse image and desertion charges | US News


Travis King, the US soldier who fled to North Korea, has been charged with desertion and the solicitation of indecent images of children.

The US Army charged the 23-year-old private after he returned from North Korea following two months in detention.

Pte King faces a total of eight distinct charges, ranging from desertion, assault and insubordination.

He was accused of soliciting a Snapchat user in July to “knowingly and willingly produce child pornography”, according to the Army’s charge sheet, and was also accused of possession of indecent images of children.

The US Army also charged Pte King with insubordination for leaving his base after curfew and drinking alcohol in violation of Army regulations.

His third charge was desertion, as the army said Pte King left his post in South Korea with the intention of permanently leaving “and did remain so absent in desertion until on or about 27 September 2023”.

Pte King, who joined the army in January 2021, previously faced two allegations of assault in South Korea.

He pleaded guilty to assault and destroying public property for damaging a police car during a profanity-laced tirade against Koreans, according to court documents.

Instead of paying a fine, Pte King opted for more than a month in South Korean detention, and was due to face disciplinary action in the US after his release.

However, he left Seoul International Airport and went to a civilian tour of the border, where he then sprinted into North Korea.

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The US Army filed eight distinct charges against the 23-year-old after he returned from North Korea

Pte King’s family have hired a legal team including Franklin Rosenblatt, who served as lead counsel during the proceedings against Bowe Bergdahl, a sergeant who was held by the Taliban for five years after walking off post in Afghanistan in 2009.

“I am grateful for the extraordinary legal team representing my son, and I look forward to my son having his day in court,” Claudine Gates, the 23-year-old’s mother, said in a statement.

She also said: “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.

“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 private was released from North Korea after negotiations involving the Swedish government, who retrieved him from China and handed him over to the US ambassador.

Pte King was flown to a military hospital in Texas on 28 September for medical evaluations, including for his mental health.

North Korea’s news agency previously claimed Pte King crossed the border due to “ill feeling against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination” in the US Army.


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