North Korea says it released Canadian pastor on 'sick bail'

North Korea prisoner Otto Warmbier

REUTERSMr Warmer was flown home to the US in a coma in June this year

Mr Lim was convicted and sentenced in 2015 on charges of trying to use religion to destroy the North Korean system and helping USA and South Korean authorities lure and abduct North Korean citizens.

SEOUL | North Korea has freed Wednesday for medical reasons a pastor in canada who was serving a sentence of forced labour to life imprisonment for subversion, has announced the official agency KCNA.

His January 2015 arrest came just a couple months after the release of missionary Kenneth Bae, who faced similar charges as the longest-serving USA prisoner in North Korean history. The South Korean-born pastor had been accused of subversive acts against Pyongyang, an allegation which the Canadian authorities strongly denied.

It comes two months after the death of U.S. student Otto Warmbier, who was in a coma at the time of his release from a North Korean prison.

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A top Canadian official arrived in North Korea on Tuesday (8 August) seeking to get a jailed pastor released, following fears he might suffer the same fate as American student Otto Warmbier.

A Canadian government official said Jean was leading the delegation as Trudeau's special envoy, and while his focus was the release of Lim, he would also "discuss other issues of regional concern".

Lim, who has a wife and son living in the Toronto area, started the Light Korean Presbyterian Church almost three decades ago, shortly after he emigrated from South Korea.

Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim, 62, was detained in December of 2015 when he was in North Korea on one of his numerous humanitarian trips.

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In an interview with CNN last year, the pastor said he usually spends eight hours a day digging holes in the prison where he has apparently not seen any other inmates.

Confusion surrounded a North Korean visit to China on Friday, as media in the South said the North's leader Kim Jong-il had crossed the border, contradicting earlier reports that his son and heir apparent Kim Jong-un had travelled.

He was medically evacuated to the United States on a military plane the following day after serving prison in North Korea for 17 months.

President Donald Trump has responded to recent threats from North Korea by pledging "fire and fury like the world has never seen" if they continue. "North Korea is concerned he would die in prison".

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