Sunday, July 11, 2010

North Korea reports Aijalon Mahli Gomes attempted suicide

North Korea reported that an American, Aijalon Mahli Gomes, imprisoned for illegally entering the reclusive country has tried to kill himself.Gomes is being treated at a hospital, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said, citing information from "a relevant" government entity.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters that Swedish diplomats visited Gomes on Friday, their eighth such visit.

"We reiterate our urge for the North Korean government to release Mr. Gomes on humanitarian grounds," Toner said. Gomes was sentenced in April to eight years of hard labor and fined $700,000 for entering the country illegally and for an unspecified "hostile act."

Gomes had attended rallies in Seoul in support of Robert Park, a fellow Christian who crossed into North Korea from China to call attention to the North's dismal human rights record.

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