North Korea to try US citizen for illegal entry

Tue, Mar 23, 2010, 00:00

SEOUL – North Korea has said it will put a 30-year-old US man on trial for illegally entering the country.

It is likely that the man is the US citizen North Korea has held since January after he supposedly entered the reclusive state from China, South Korean government officials told local media.

North Korea identified the man as Aijalon Mahli Gomes, adding that he was from Boston. His “crime has been confirmed”, its official KCNA news agency said without elaborating.

North Korea has used detained American citizens as bargaining chips with the US and the trial announcement comes as Washington has been putting pressure on Pyongyang to end its year-long boycott of nuclear disarmament-for-aid talks.

In previous cases, North Korea has typically released Americans a few months after their capture.

Earlier this month, North Korea allowed diplomats from Sweden, which represents US interests in the state with which Washington does not have formal diplomatic ties, to visit the US citizen detained since the start of the year.

South Korean news reports have said the border crosser entered North Korea because he no longer wanted to live in the capitalist world. – (Reuters)