North Korea frees imprisoned Canadian pastor after years in detention

| Updated: Aug 23, 2017 11:20 IST

Pyongyang [North Korea], Aug 10 (ANI): North Korea has released a Canadian pastor serving a life sentence in the country after two and a half years in detention. Hyeon Soo Lim, convicted of crimes against the state in December 2015, was "released on sick bail" Wednesday by the country's top court for "humanitarian" reasons, CNN quoted state-run news agency KCNA as saying. Lim's son, James Lim, was informed over the weekend that a letter to Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un was dispatched in a plane carrying senior Canadian officials and a medical doctor, to Pyongyang at the last minute, said a family spokeswoman, Lisa Pak. Pak said that the pastor's health had worsened while in North Korean custody and he had also experienced dramatic weight loss. According to the reports, Lim's family had stepped up calls for his release since the death of University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier in June. A travel ban preventing nearly all the U.S. citizens from visiting North Korea was announced by the U.S. State Department that will take effect next month since Warmbier's death with the exception for journalists and humanitarian workers. Lim had complained of stomach pain and high blood pressure in his letters to family, friends and members of his church in Mississauga, Ontario. Lim's family was able to send him letters and blood pressure medication via the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang as they were not allowed to see him during his imprisonment. Swedish embassy in Pyongyang often serves as an intermediary for prisoners from nations with no formal diplomatic ties to North Korea. He was detained in February 2015 while on a humanitarian mission in Rajin, North Korea. Lim has made more than 100 trips to North Korea since 1997 for his humanitarian efforts in the country. (ANI)