White House: Jimmy Carter taking 'private trip' to North Korea

White House spokesman Josh Earnest referred all additional questions to the State Department.

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The confirmation follows reports that Carter was planning on traveling to North Korea in order to secure the release of Kenneth Bae, a U.S. citizen, being held there.

Bae was sentenced to 15 years hard labor by North Korea earlier this year on charges of attempting to overthrow the government, according to reports.

Human rights campaigners say Bae may have angered the regime by taking photographs of poverty or public executions during his travels.

The Obama administration has called on Pyongyang to release Bae.