U.S. prisoner in North Korea attempts suicide, says Govt.

In this January 12, 2010 file photo, American Aijalon Mahli Gomes participates in a rally denouncing North Korean's human rights conditions at the Imjingak Pavilion, near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) of Panmunjom that separates the two Koreas since the Korean War, in Paju, South Korea. AP.  

A U.S. citizen sentenced to forced labour in North Korea tried to commit suicide, the communist country’s official news agency said on Friday.

Aijalon Mahli Gomes, 30, was being treated in hospital after the attempt, which occurred after his April sentencing for illegally crossing the border into North Korea, the Korean Central News Agency said.

“Driven by his strong guilty conscience, disappointment and despair at the U.S. government that has not taken any measure for his freedom, he attempted to commit suicide,” it said.

Gomes, an English teacher who had been working in South Korea, received an eight—year sentence in a labour camp after he crossed the border from China in January.

The motivation for his illegal crossing was not known. Friday’s report said the suicide attempt had taken place recently and did not give details.

Gomes has been visited in hospital by officials of the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang, which represents U.S. interests in the country in the absence of formal ties between the two Korean War foes.

North Korea threatened two weeks ago to impose a harsher punishment on the Boston man over what it called Washington’s “hostile approach” after the sinking of a South Korean warship in March, which was blamed on the Stalinist state.

Pyongyang also refused a U.S. request to release Gomes on humanitarian grounds.

The United States said it was considering additional punitive measures against North Korea after the deadly ship sinking, which an international inquiry found was caused by a North Korean torpedo.

Washington’s ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, presented a draft statement on Thursday night in New York that condemns the attack without directly linking it to North Korea.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 2:00:04 PM |

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