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North Korea detains US citizen for illegal entry

[JURIST] The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) [official website] confirmed Tuesday that police have detained a US citizen for illegally entering North Korea. The KCNA did not disclose the identity of the individual, but it is suspected to be [US DOS release] US-Korean rights activist Robert Park. A spokesperson for Pax Koreana, a rights group associated with Park, said that he entered North Korea [Yonhap report] to protests its human rights record and to deliver a letter to leader Kim Jong Il [JURIST news archive]. The KCNA said that his entry is being investigated, but did not say how long he will be held or what charges he will face.

In August, Kim pardoned [JURIST report] US journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee [BBC profile], who had been arrested [JURIST report] in March for allegedly crossing into the country. Before the pardon, the two had been sentenced [JURIST report] to 12 years in prison. Some US commentators have suggested that the journalists were being used as pawns [JURIST comment] in policy disputes between the US and North Korea. North Korea has long faced international criticism for its human rights record, but has defended its policies [JURIST reports] before the UN.

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