Jimmy Carter secures release of US hiker from North Korea
August 27, 2010
(ChattahBox) – The formula of sending an ex president to North Korea, to secure the release of US citizens has worked again. Former US president Jimmy Carter has secured the release of American Aijalon Gomes, held in North Korea for nearly seven months after crossing the border from China on foot. The pair are due to arrive in Boston today to be reunited with Mr Gomes’ mother and other family members. In April, North Korean authorities sentenced Mr Gomes to hard labor and fined 70 million won, for trespassing and committing a “hostile act.” According to state media he “admitted all the facts”.
Gomes, 31, who had been teaching English in South Korea, was the fourth American arrested in North Korea for illegal entry in a year when he was seized in January. Journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, were also sentenced to hard labor and released last August on a special pardon thanks to Bill Clinton, and activist Robert Park deliberately crossed into the country last Christmas and was expelled by North Korean authorities about 40 days later. Mr Gomes worshiped at the same church as Mr Park and was photographed in Seoul rallying for Park’s release just two weeks before his own arrest in North Korea.
Just after granting Gomes’ amnesty, North Korea announced that its No. 2 leader, Kim Yong-Nam, told Carter that Pyongyang wants to resume nuclear talks and is committed to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.