North Korea to expel US citizen who ‘illegally entered’ country

Most Americans held by North Korea have been released after high-profile interventions with leaders in Pyongyang, above. (AFP)
Updated 16 November 2018
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North Korea to expel US citizen who ‘illegally entered’ country

  • Lawrence Bruce Byron had been in custody after crossing into North Korea from China on October 16
  • It is rare for North Korea to release an American detainee so swiftly

SEOUL: North Korea has decided to expel a US citizen who illegally entered the country last month, Pyongyang’s official KCNA news agency said Friday.
The man, identified as Lawrence Bruce Byron, had been in custody after crossing into North Korea from China on October 16, it said.
“While being questioned, he said he had illegally entered the country under the command of the US Central Intelligence Agency,” KCNA said.
“Relevant authorities have decided to expel him from the country,” it added.
A man with the same name was arrested in South Korea while trying to sneak over the inter-Korean border in November last year.
Byron, who is in his late 50s and from Louisiana, was later deported back to the US.
Media reports said he told South Korean officials he sought to facilitate talks between North Korea and the United States, although he is a private citizen.
It is rare for North Korea to release an American detainee so swiftly and it comes amid stalled negotiations over Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
From journalists to missionaries, most Americans held by North Korea have been released after high-profile interventions.
The reclusive regime freed three US detainees in May in an apparent goodwill gesture before a summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump in Singapore.
The three men traveled home with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and were greeted by Trump on their arrival at an air base near Washington.
Currently, there are no known US detainees held by the rigid communist state.
At their historic Singapore summit, Trump and Kim signed a vaguely worded document on denuclearization of the peninsula.
Progress has since stalled as Washington and Pyongyang spar over the meaning of the document.


“I don’t want to remember the past by talking about it“

Updated 52 min ago
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“I don’t want to remember the past by talking about it“

  • Indian national repatriated from Pakistan after spending six years in jail
  • Details ordeal during private meeting with top minister

DELHI: Some things are better left unsaid.
That’s the reasoning former Indian prisoner Hamid Ansari offered for refusing to divulge details of his experience after spending six years in jail in Pakistan.
He was finally repatriated to India on Tuesday. For now, he says he’s just happy to be back home.
On Wednesday, the 33-year-old engineer met India’s External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, in New Delhi and narrated the trauma that he went through in the past six years.
Meanwhile, his family expressed their gratitude to Swaraj for facilitating Hamid’s repatriation to India.
“I am happy to be back in India,” Hamid told reporters after his return to Delhi. He refused to talk about his ordeal adding: “I don’t want to remember the past by talking about my experience.”

During his meeting with Swaraj, which lasted for half an hour, Hamid got emotional, saying he was “sorry” for the trouble he had caused his family and the government.
His mother, Fauzia Ansari, profusely thanked Swaraj for facilitating her son’s return. “My son has come back from the jaws of death. He has got a new life,” she said during her interaction with the foreign minister.
Swaraj, on her part, asked Hamid to “forget the past as a bad phase in your life and focus on the future”.
Hamid served three years in the Peshawar Central Jail after being sentenced by a military court in 2015 for possessing a fake identity card.
In search of a better livelihood, he had reportedly left his hometown of Mumbai in India to look for a job in Afghanistan.
In 2012, however, he allegedly entered Kohat, in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, to meet a girl he had befriended on social media.
Pakistan, however, said that Hamid was an Indian spy who had illegally entered the country while accusing him of being involved in anti-state crimes and forgery, prior to sentencing him to six years in jail.
His jail term ended on December 15 following which a Pakistani court gave the government a month’s time to complete formalities and deport him to India.
Hamid’s release attracted widespread media attention in India with several newspapers and TV channels headlining the story.