WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2004-The man who leaked top secret government documents from a North Korean prison camp detailing chemical weapons and gas experiments on political prisoners, including women and children, has been arrested by Chinese authorities after escaping across the border, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.
The documents were smuggled out of North Korea by South Korean human rights activist, Kim Sang-hun, who told RFA's Korean service the man had also taken his family with him to China, and that they had also been detained.
"I made contact with this person in a chemical factory in North Korea a long time ago. He has been waiting, and waiting to obtain this document. Then he got the chance, and it was smuggled out of North Korea," the 71-year-old Kim told RFA. "His words were not enough. He wanted to show the evidence to the world, but he was captured in China."
Kim said the document he smuggled was a transfer list ordering certain prisoners to be transferred to the chemical facilities near the Russian border, known as Camp 22. "This is genuine. This is not a government-to-government document. This is a secret document, published for the eyes of a select few," Kim said, adding that it would be extremely hard to counterfeit an official North Korean government seal, as they were manufactured under police supervision.
Kim, who traveled to London last week as part of an effort to pressure China to release the man and his relatives, said the man and his family were in imminent danger of being deported back to North Korea by the Chinese authorities.
"We have pleaded with the American authorities but we have been disappointed," Kim said. "These people will be dragged to North Korea, [where] they will face death. This person will be executed, or punished."
Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans have tried to escape starvation and political repression by escaping into China, and an estimated 300,000 are thought to be still in hiding there. But the refugees face continued rights abuses including beatings and rapes in custody, before deportation to face further punishment.
Kim, who appeared last week in a BBC documentary which also interviewed a former security guard at Camp 22, said the man had fled to testify to the world in person about the truth of the reports, and the authenticity of the document.
"Our plan was to be ready when North Korea denied it, then we would provide the document and further evidence... but the plan failed because they were captured," Kim said. "It is urgent. We must save them," he said.
RFA broadcasts news and information to Asian listeners who lack regular access to full and balanced reporting in their domestic media. Through its broadcasts and call-in programs, RFA aims to fill a critical gap in the lives of people across Asia. Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan (Uke, Amdo and Kham) and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest standards of journalism and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance and fairness in its editorial content.#####