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.


French minister resigns in luxury dinners scandal

Updated 20 min 47 sec ago
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French minister resigns in luxury dinners scandal

  • The Mediapart website accused him of hosting friends to opulent meals

PARIS: A senior French cabinet minister resigned Tuesday after reports accused him of extravagant spending, including on luxury dinners, but lashed out at what he termed a "media lynching."
Environment Minister Francois de Rugy has been under unrelenting pressure for a week after the Mediapart website accused him of hosting friends to opulent meals, complete with lobster and vintage wines, while he was speaker of parliament.
"The attacks and media lynching targeting my family force me to take the necessary step back," said de Rugy, who also held the post of minister of state which made him the number two in government after Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.
"The effort required to defend my name means that I am not able to serenely and efficiently carry out my mission. I presented my resignation to the prime minister this morning," he added.
Rugy lashed out at Mediapart, which has repeatedly published stories that have rattled the French elite since it was established in 2008.
He said he had filed a legal complaint against the left-wing publication for "defamation", accusing it of a desire "to harm, smear and destroy."
President Emmanuel Macron, in his first reaction to the revelations, said Monday he had asked Philippe for "full clarity" as he took decisions not "based on revelations but facts".
Macron, who is keen to promote his green credentials, has struggled to find a long-term occupant for the environment ministry.
De Rugy last year succeeded Macron's first appointment to the job, Nicolas Hulot, a celebrity environmentalist who quit after saying that his cabinet colleagues were doing too little to tackle climate change.