(NEWSER) – The foreign media was caught off guard today after North Korea allowed CNN reporters to speak to three Americans detained there, reports the AP.

Photo: CNN

Kenneth Bae, Matthew Todd Miller, and Jeffrey Edward Fowle were each given five minutes for a TV interview with CNN, which aired their statements about their conditions and health. What emerged during the interviews (which the AP notes were monitored by Korean officials): All three told reporters they had been permitted to contact their loved ones and urged the US to send a rep to help secure their freedom, notes the AP.

Bae, who reportedly has medical issues related to diabetes and an enlarged heart, says his health is deteriorating and that he's toiling in a labor camp to serve out his 15-year sentence, doing "hard labor" for eight hours a day, six days a week. Still, the 46-year-old missionary accused by North Korea of scheming to overthrow the government—an offense that could have been punishable by death—says he has been treated "as humanely as possible."

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