Sunday, 17 December, 2017

North Korea says it has freed Canadian prisoner

North Korea prisoner Otto Warmbier REUTERSMr Warmer was flown home to the US in a coma in June this year
Dexter Carr | 10 August, 2017, 00:10

South Korea, the US and others often accuse North Korea of using foreign detainees to wrest diplomatic concessions, and foreigners have said after their release that their declarations of guilt had been coerced while in North Korean custody.

Lim, a Korean-Canadian pastor, has been held in captivity in the North since he entered the country via China on a humanitarian mission in January 2015.

He was serving a life sentence of hard labor after being convicted in December 2015 for crimes against the state.

Separately, a senior government official confirmed to CBC News that Jean was leading the delegation as the prime minister's special envoy, and that while his focus is the release of Lim, he would also be free to "discuss other issues of regional concern".

A top Canadian official arrived in North Korea on Tuesday (8 August) seeking to get a jailed pastor released, following fears he might suffer the same fate as American student Otto Warmbier.

Three American citizens remain in custody in North Korea.

North Korea, which zealously tries to shield its citizens from outside influences, has detained several foreign missionaries in recent years, calling them spies or agents of subversive ideas. "North Korea is concerned he would die in prison".

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In letters to his family, the South Korean-born pastor complained of stomach pains and high blood pressure.

North Korea has in the past attracted the attention of Washington and visits by high-profile Americans with the detention and release of U.S. citizens.

His family said he had been traveling to and from North Korea on humanitarian trips to establish orphanages, nurseries and nursing homes and had visited the country more than 100 times in the past 20 years.

Tensions between North Korea and the US are on the rise, as North Korea has threatened to take punitive action against the U.S.in response to new sanctions, as well as other perceived provocations.

Last year, the 62-year-old told CNN he was the sole prisoner in a labour camp, digging holes for eight hours a day, six days a week.

President Donald Trump has responded to recent threats from North Korea by pledging "fire and fury like the world has never seen" if they continue.

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