Former President Carter Secures Release Of American Imprisoned In North Korea

From a Carter Center statement:

Former President Jimmy Carter announced that he is leaving Pyongyang, North Korea, this morning accompanied by Mr. Aijalon Mahli Gomes. Mr. Gomes was imprisoned in January of this year and later sentenced to eight years of hard labor with a fine of about $600,000 for the crime of illegal entry into North Korea. At the request of President Carter, and for humanitarian purposes, Mr. Gomes was granted amnesty by the Chairman of the National Defense Commission, Kim Jong-Il.

It is expected that Mr. Gomes will be returned to Boston, Mass., early Friday afternoon, to be reunited with his mother and other members of his family.

The North Korean government had claimed that Gomes had illegally entered the country.

North Korea agreed to release Aijalon Mahli Gomes if Carter were to come to bring him home, a senior U.S. official told The Associated Press… State Department officials secretly visited North Korea in early August in what turned out to be a failed attempt to gain Gomes’ release. U.S. officials have pressed for his freedom on humanitarian grounds, citing his health and reports that Gomes has attempted suicide while in custody.

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