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Family of Pvt. Travis King hits back at claims he was ignored by the military

The family of Pvt. Travis King walks back claiming that the military hasn’t contacted them since King went to North Korea.

Jonathan Franks, a spokesperson recently hired by the family, took responsibility for the shift in the message, telling Military.com in a phone call Monday that “in the hectic end of the week, my wires were crossed.”

An army spokesperson told Military.com that the agency was “confirming details with Travis’s unit,” but claimed it was “in regular contact with the family and trying to provide all possible information.”

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On Monday, Cynthia Smith, an army spokeswoman, told Military.com that since King moved into North Korea, “an army commander continues to communicate with [King’s mother] by phone several times a week.

Smith did not immediately provide additional details when asked by Military.com about the frequency of the calls, the length of each call and the name of the military commander.

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“The questions she has, as any mom would have, are probably pretty hard for the military to answer right now,” Franks said.

While Franks readily took responsibility for the mismatch in statements, he also noted that the family has struggled with the amount of attention they’ve received from the national media since the story of King’s departure came out on July 18, 2023.

Four days ago, King’s mother, Claudine Gates, and his uncle appeared on “Good Morning America,” where she said she couldn’t “function” or “think straight.”

“I was sure at the end of the week, the problem was that the military called and didn’t get an answer, and it turns out they called,” Franks said.

Meanwhile, questions arise about whether the military will consider King a prisoner of war – a designation that carries certain protections and rights under the Geneva Conventions.

Franks says former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, who negotiated with North Korea on numerous occasions and helped arrange the release of captives from other countries, has agreed to help in their cause.

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It wasn’t until August 1 — two weeks after King disappeared into the retreating dictatorship — that the Pentagon announced that North Korea had acknowledged the UN command’s investigations. But top Pentagon spokesman Brig. General Pat Ryder told reporters at the time that he had “no substantial progress to read.”

Last week, Reuters reported that US officials have not yet granted the status to King, citing his decision to enter North Korea of ​​his own free will and in civilian clothes.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Ryder said granting King that status is only one possibility — there are others.

“That’s all still up for debate right now,” Ryder said, before noting that “the primary goal right now is to make sure Pvt. King is OK, that he’s taken care of.”

A defense official told Military.com they expect King to be treated humanely, in accordance with international law.

— Konstantin Toropin can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.

— Thomas Novelly can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.

Related: Frustration and questions swirl for family of soldier who entered North Korea

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