Japanese man detained in North Korea: media

A police man directs traffic on a street lined with apartment buildings in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this June 15, 2018 photo. (AP)
Updated 11 August 2018
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Japanese man detained in North Korea: media

  • Tokyo has advised Japanese citizens against travel to North Korea as part of its economic sanctions on the country
  • North Korea has a long history of arresting foreigners on spying charges and then using them as diplomatic pawns

TOKYO: A Japanese man has recently been detained in North Korea, a potential diplomatic dilemma as Tokyo pushes to hold a summit with Pyongyang, local media reported Saturday.
It was not immediately clear when or why the unidentified man was held but he may be charged with spying, the Asahi Shimbun reported, quoting government sources.
“Securing the man’s safety is the top priority but it is possible the North Korean side might make use of the case as a bargaining chip for its negotiations with Japan,” a source close the Japanese government told the paper.
Further details, such as the purpose of the man’s visit to North Korea, were not immediately available.
A foreign ministry official declined to confirm the news reports “due to the nature of such a case.”
“But the government is taking action and gathering information,” the official told AFP.
Tokyo has advised Japanese citizens against travel to North Korea as part of its economic sanctions on the country.
North Korea has a long history of arresting foreigners on spying charges and then using them as diplomatic pawns.
In 1999, a Japanese newspaper reporter in North Korea was detained for about two years on spying charges, Kyodo News reported.
Japan has largely maintained a hard line on Pyongyang — which fired multiple test missiles toward Japanese territory — and has long pushed for movement on citizens who were abducted decades ago by North Korean agents.
But reports suggest Tokyo is considering a summit soon between Kim and Abe in the wake of South Korea and Washington’s recent diplomatic detente with Pyongyang. Japanese media have floated a possible meeting on the sidelines of an international forum in Russia’s Vladivostok next month.
“Ultimately, I myself will have to directly face chairman Kim Jong Un and engage in dialogue and resolve the nuclear, missile and, above all, the all-important abduction issue, and then build new Japan-North Korea relations,” Abe said Monday.
During historic talks with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June, Kim reportedly said he was open to a meeting with Abe.


Trial starts for suspect in tourist killings in Tajikistan

Updated 23 October 2018
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Trial starts for suspect in tourist killings in Tajikistan

  • Man who swore allegiance to Daesh before killing four foreign cyclists in ex-Soviet Tajikistan went on trial
  • Four of Abdusamadov’s accomplices were killed by police during a manhunt

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan: A man who swore allegiance to Daesh before killing four foreign cyclists in ex-Soviet Tajikistan went on trial Tuesday in a process closed to the public.
Tajikistan’s Supreme Court spokesperson told AFP Tuesday the trial for the “brutal murder of four foreign cyclists” had begun in the suspect’s high-security detention center.
Hussein Abdusamadov, 33, already confessed to killing American cycling tourists Lauren Geoghegan and Jay Austin, Dutch citizen Rene Wokke and Swiss citizen Markus Hummel in July.
The victims were struck by a car as they cycled along the remote Pamir Highway, a popular route among adventure tourists, before being set upon with knives and firearms.
Four of Abdusamadov’s accomplices were killed by police during a manhunt.
A video of the five men pledging allegiance to Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was released by an official Daesh media channel.
Tajik authorities have so far ignored the video evidence, instead blaming a former opposition party — the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan — that was banned by the government in 2015.
The fact the trial is closed has raised concerns about due process in a country with a poor record on political freedoms and human rights.
Abdusamadov implicated the IRPT as the ultimate organizer of the attack in a televised confession, but critics say the government is using the case to tar the opposition.
A dozen senior members of the IRPT are serving long sentences up to life on charges government critics say are trumped up.
In addition to Abdusamadov, 16 other people stand accused of not offering information to the authorities that could have prevented the attack, a source in the police told AFP.