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Sen. Kerry works to free U.S. citizen imprisoned in North Korea

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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 04:22 PM
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Sen. Kerry works to free U.S. citizen imprisoned in North Korea

Sen. Kerry works to free U.S. citizen imprisoned in North Korea
By Russell Berman - 04/10/10 04:43 PM ET


Aides to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) have been in talks with North Korean officials in an effort to secure the release of an American man detained in Pyongyang and sentenced this week to eight years of hard labor.

Aijalon Mahli Gomes, 30, was convicted in a trial on Tuesday for illegally entering North Korea and another, unspecified, hostile act, the nations state-run news agency reported this week. He was also fined an equivalent of $700,000.

Gomes, a Boston native who was teaching English in South Korea, was detained on January 25 after crossing over into North Korea.

Kerry is Gomess senior senator in Massachusetts as well as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has taken the lead in working with the State Department to win Gomes release, officials said.

Members of Kerrys staff have been in direct contact with North Korean officials in New York, spokesman Frederick Jones said. Because the U.S. has no diplomatic relations with the Pyongyang regime, talks are conducted using Swedish diplomats as intermediaries.

Gomes is the fourth American in just over a year to be detained in North Korea. The plight of two U.S. journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling, gained worldwide attention last year after former President Bill Clinton flew to Pyongyang to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il and secure the release of the women.

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http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/91485-sen-kerry-works-to-free-us-citizen-imprisoned-in-north-korea
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