North Korea says Cana­dian pas­tor re­leased on ‘sick bail’

North Bay Nugget - - NATIONAL NEWS - — The Cana­dian Press

seouL, south Korea — North Korea says it has re­leased a Cana­dian pas­tor who has been serv­ing a life sen­tence since 2015 for anti-state ac­tiv­i­ties over health rea­sons.

Py­ongyang ’s of­fi­cial Korean Cen­tral News agency said on its web­site Wed­nes­day that hyeon soo Lim was re­leased on “sick bail” fol­low­ing a de­ci­sion by the coun­try’s Cen­tral Court.

The news was an­nounced af­ter a del­e­ga­tion from the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment went to Py­ongyang to dis­cuss Lim’s case.

Lim, a pas­tor with the Light Korean Pres­by­te­rian Church of Mis­sis­sauga, ont., had been sen­tenced by a North Korean court to life in prison with hard labour for what it called crimes against the state.

Lim was charged with harm­ing the dig­nity of the supreme lead­er­ship, try­ing to use re­li­gion to de­stroy the North Korean sys­tem, dis­sem­i­nat­ing neg­a­tive pro­pa­ganda about the North to over­seas Kore­ans and help­ing amer­i­can and south Korean au­thor­i­ties lure and abduct North Korean cit­i­zens, along with aid­ing their pro­grams to as­sist de­fec­tors from the North.

The pas­tor went to North Korea on Jan. 31, 2015 for a hu­man­i­tar­ian mis­sion, one of more than 100 trips to the coun­try since 1997, to sup­port an or­phan­age, nurs­ery and nurs­ing home, his rel­a­tives and col­leagues have said.

They were also wor­ried about his health, say­ing he needs med­i­ca­tion to man­age his blood pres­sure.

“Pas­tor Lim’s health and well­be­ing re­main of ut­most im­por­tance to the gov­ern­ment of Canada as we con­tinue to en­gage on this case,” Cameron ah­mad, a spokesman for the Prime Min­is­ter’s of­fice, told the Cana­dian Press on Tues­day.

Lim, who has a wife and son liv­ing in the Toronto area, started the Light Korean Pres­by­te­rian Church nearly three decades ago, shortly af­ter he em­i­grated from south Korea.

he grew the con­gre­ga­tion from about a dozen peo­ple in 1986 to more than 3,000 mem­bers. he also runs a smaller church in down­town Toronto that caters to young peo­ple.

The Cana­dian del­e­ga­tion is led by daniel Jean, the na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser to Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau.

The last time a Cana­dian del­e­ga­tion was sent to Py­ongyang to dis­cuss the re­lease of the 62-year-old pas­tor was in late 2016.

Canada does not have an em­bassy in North Korea, and has ad­vised against all travel there.

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