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North Korea Detains 85-year-old American Over War Crimes Allegedly Committed Between 1950-53

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Merrill Newman, detained in North Korea

Merrill Newman, detained in North Korea

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has sparked another international crisis.

This time, there are no rockets involved. It all starts with his regime jailing an 85-year-old grandfather.

The secretive nation confirmed Saturday that an American veteran of the Korean War, Merrill Newman, was detained for “hostile acts” against the communist country and said he had released an apology confessing to his alleged crimes.

Newman was held in October after entering the North “under the guise of a tourist”, the country’s official KCNA news agency said.

It is the first time the reclusive state has officially admitted holding Newman, whose family said he was detained on October 26 shortly before takeoff from Pyongyang following a 10-day tour.

KCNA claimed Newman had committed crimes both as a tourist and during his participation in the Korean War six decades ago.

Newman, a retired financial executive who served three years during the war, has been accused of infringing upon the “dignity and sovereignty” of the secretive state and “slandering its socialist system, quite contrary to the purpose of the tour”, the report said.

The American had also masterminded espionage and subversive activities during the 1950-53 Korean War and was involved in the killing of North Korean soldiers and innocent civilians, it said.

International affairs experts said North Korea might have issued Newman’s apology in order to trigger talks with the United States.

“North Korea wants negotiations with the United States on his release,” Yang Moo-Jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, told AFP.

“The release of Newman, probably together with another American detained earlier, may come before the end of this year if Washington sends a special envoy,” he said.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un

The regime has long used threats against foreign prisoners and potential missile strikes to attract the world’s attention.

In May this year, the regime fired more than half-a-dozen projectiles into the nearby Sea of Japan, sparking fears of war.

North Korea is also holding US national Kenneth Bae, a 45-year-old tour operator arrested a year ago who was sentenced to 15 years’ hard labour on charges of seeking to topple the government.

The court described Bae, also known by his Korean name Pae Jun-Ho, as a militant Christian evangelist who smuggled inflammatory material into the country and sought to establish a subversive base in Rason.

Friends and relatives have said Newman, who was on an organised tour, was detained due to a “misunderstanding”.

Last week the US special envoy on North Korea, Glyn Davies, urged Pyongyang to release detained American citizens, saying Washington was “working very hard” through the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang “to try to move this issue along”.

The US State Department recently issued an updated travel advisory urging Americans to avoid North Korea, which was reportedly “arbitrarily detaining US citizens and not allowing them to depart the country”.

Pyongyang runs one of the world’s most secretive states and independently verifying official reports is notoriously difficult.

The North’s secretive communist regime is widely thought to govern the country with an iron fist, with frequent public executions and up to 200,000 political prisoners languishing in labour camps.

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JUST IN: ECOWAS Lifts Sanctions On Mali

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ECOWAS countries
ECOWAS Countries

ECOWAS Countries

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US President, Donald Trump, Wife Test Positive For Covid-19

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Donald Trump and Melania
Donald Trump and Melania

Donald Trump and wife, Melania Trump

President of the United States, Donald Trump, and his wife, Melania Trump have both tested positive for COVID-19.

The President took to his official Twitter handle on Friday to make this announcement.

Trump was last seen in public on Thursday afternoon, returning to the White House after a fundraising trip to New Jersey.

Also Read: What I Told Trump When He Accused Me Of Killing Christians – Buhari

On Thursday, he announced that his aide, Hope Hicks tested positive for the virus which has killed over 1 million people around the world.

He further revealed that he and the first lady had taken the test and waiting for the results before announcing the outcome on Friday.

 

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Mali: N’Daw, Coup Leader Goita Sworn In As President, VP

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President of Mali, N'Daw, coup leader, Goita
President of Mali, N'Daw, coup leader, Goita

President of Mali, N’Daw, coup leader, Goita

Retired Army Colonel, Bah N’Daw has been sworn in on Friday as the interim president of Mali and he is to head a transitional government following last month’s military coup in the country.

The swearing-in ceremony held in the country’s capital city of Bamako, where Colonel Assimi Goita, who led the military junta, was also sworn in as interim vice president.

This administration is to lead the government for a maximum of 18 months before organising national elections.

Also Read: Buhari Attends Virtual ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit Over Mali Crisis

It will be recalled that the country’s military executed a coup last month (August 18) which successfully removed the nation’s president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita from office.

Former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, attended the ceremony alongside other members of the ECOWAS mediation team.

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