North Korea warns ex-pris­oner

Lesotho Times - - International -

SEOUL — North Korea will not ne­go­ti­ate with the United States over two Amer­i­can cit­i­zens it is hold­ing un­til for­mer de­tainee Ken­neth Bae stops pub­licly talk­ing about his time in prison, state me­dia said on Mon­day.

Crit­i­cised over its hu­man rights record for years, North Korea has made use of de­tained Amer­i­cans in the past to ex­tract high-pro­file vis­its from the United States, with which it has no for­mal diplo­matic re­la­tions.

North Korea ar­rested Bae, a US mis­sion­ary, in Novem­ber 2012 and sen­tenced him to 15 years’ hard labour for crimes against the state.

He was re­leased two years later and has writ­ten an ac­count of his de­ten­tion in a mem­oir re­leased in May. Since then, Bae has spo­ken about his ex­pe­ri­ences at sev­eral pub­lic ap­pear­ances and given in­ter­views to pro­mote the book.

“As long as Ken­neth Bae con­tin­ues his bab­bling, we will not pro­ceed with any com­pro­mise or ne­go­ti­a­tions with the United States on the sub­ject of Amer­i­can crim­i­nals, and there will cer­tainly not be any such thing as hu­man­i­tar­ian ac­tion,” the North’s KCNA news agen- cy said.

“If Bae con­tin­ues, US crim­i­nals held in our coun­try will be in the piti­ful state of never be­ing able to set foot in their home­land once again”.

Pyongyang is hold­ing two US cit­i­zens, both of whom it has tried and sen­tenced to hard labour.

In March, Otto Warm­bier, a 21-year-old stu­dent of the Univer­sity of Vir­ginia, was sen­tenced to 15 years’ hard labour for try­ing to steal a pro­pa­ganda ban­ner bear­ing the name of for­mer leader Kim Jong Il.

In April, a North Korean court con­victed Korean-amer­i­can mis­sion­ary Kim Dong Chul of crimes against the state and sen­tenced him to 10 years’ hard labour.

Last year, Cana­dian mis­sion­ary Hyeon Soo Lim was sen­tenced to hard labour for life for sub­ver­sion of the state.

The United States and Canada both strongly ad­vise cit­i­zens not to travel to North Korea. This May, the US State Depart­ment said Amer­i­cans who trav­elled there de­spite the warn­ings risked “un­duly harsh sen­tences”. — Reuters

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