- The Washington Times - Friday, August 20, 2004

TOKYO (AP) — Accused U.S. Army deserter Charles Jenkins — who defected to North Korea in 1965 and is currently in Japan — is ready to meet American military officials to discuss a plea bargain, Kyodo news agency reported yesterday.

Mr. Jenkins indicated to Japanese government officials that he intended to seek a plea bargain following talks with an independent legal counsel from the Army this month, the news service said.

Mr. Jenkins, 64, is accused of deserting his Army platoon in South Korea in 1965 and defecting to the Communist North.

He faces several possible charges, including aiding the enemy, encouraging other soldiers to desert their posts and desertion, which is the most serious and carries a maximum life penalty.

Mr. Jenkins plans to go voluntarily to Camp Zama, a U.S. Army base just outside Tokyo, where he is expected to plead guilty to some of those charges in return for a lighter sentence, Kyodo said.

“The U.S. military will indicate its course of action within the month,” Kyodo quoted a Japanese government source as saying.

Neither Mr. Jenkins nor Japanese government officials could be reached for comment.

Mr. Jenkins arrived in Japan last month for medical treatment at a Tokyo hospital after leaving North Korea to be reunited with his Japanese wife, Hitomi Soga. The two met in North Korea after Mrs. Soga was kidnapped by North Korean agents in 1978. She returned to Japan in 2002.

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