Army private Travis King, who had previously fled to North Korea and was subsequently returned to the U.S., has been charged with desertion and other offenses, including the possession of inappropriate child imagery. These allegations came to light in a document viewed by The Associated Press. King’s mother has expressed deep concern for her son’s mental health and has called for a presumption of innocence on his behalf.
- Pvt. Travis King fled to North Korea, becoming the first American to be detained there in almost five years, before being returned to the U.S. where he now faces multiple charges, including desertion.
- Alongside desertion, the charges against King include assaulting other officers, unlawfully possessing alcohol, lying, and possessing inappropriate child imagery. The last charge coincides with his release from a South Korean prison where he served time for assault.
- After his detention in North Korea, King’s release was facilitated with the help of Swedish officials. Once he arrived in the U.S., he was subjected to a “reintegration” process which included medical checks, psychological evaluations, and official debriefings.
- Initially, the Army classified King as “absent without leave” (AWOL) rather than a deserter. The latter would mean he had intended to abandon his post indefinitely. In wartime, desertion can lead to the death penalty.
- The allegations against King include a claim that he solicited inappropriate images of minors on Snapchat, a platform which retains data and is accessible by government agencies.