North Korea said Friday that it had detained a 24-year-old American this month who demanded asylum after arriving in the country on a tourist visa in “a gross violation of its legal order.”
The announcement was made while President Obama was visiting South Korea, one of Washington’s closest allies and still technically at war with Pyongyang.
“A relevant organ of the DPRK put in custody American Miller Matthew Todd, 24, on April 10 for his rash behavior in the course of going through formalities for entry into the DPRK to tour it,” North Korea’s KCNA news agency said, using the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
KCNA said the detained man had a tourist visa for North Korea but tore it to pieces and shouted that he had come “to the DPRK after choosing it as a shelter.”
The State Department said that it was aware of reports of a U.S. citizen being detained in North Korea and that it was in touch with the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang. The United States has no diplomatic relations with North Korea, and the interests of its citizens in the country are represented by Sweden.
The United States will halt a bilateral security initiative run by military officials out of its embassy in Ecuador following a request by the South American nation, an embassy spokesman said Friday.
Ecuador sent a letter April 7 to the U.S. Embassy asking it to eliminate the Office of Security Cooperation after comments in January by President Rafael Correa that the embassy had a “scandalous” number of military officers.
The office provided close to $7 million to Ecuador last year for programs related to technical training, maintenance of vehicles and planes, counternarcotics operations and human trafficking, among others.
“While we respect their decision, we regret that the outcome will severely limit our bilateral security partnership,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Friday. “Our close military cooperation over the past four decades has resulted in significant advances against drug trafficking, human trafficking, terrorism and other transnational crime.”
A supporter of Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood was killed Friday in clashes with the security forces in Fayoum province, south of Cairo, medical sources said.
The woman, Reda Dahish, died after being hit by birdshot in her stomach. Six other people were wounded, the sources said.
A Reuters witness saw Brotherhood supporters throwing rocks and fireworks at security forces, who fired tear gas and birdshot at the protesters.
In a separate incident in Cairo, a police officer was shot and killed by Brotherhood supporters, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
Swiss finance N. Korea army training: The Swiss Defense Ministry finances the annual training of two employees of North Korea’s Defense Ministry, including soldiers, according to the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. The center, which trains government officials, diplomats, military officers and international civil servants in fields of international peace and security, has had two North Korean participants every year since 2011, Antoine Tardy, a Geneva-based spokesman, said in a telephone interview Friday.
Brazil high court pardons ex-president: Brazil’s Supreme Court has absolved former president Fernando Collor de Mello in a corruption case that was among scandals that led to his impeachment more than 20 years ago. In a decision posted on its Web site Friday, the court cited a lack of evidence for the allegation that Collor, now a senator, was part of a scheme to embezzle public money using an advertising agency during his 1990-92 presidency. Deputy Attorney General Ela Wiecko had defended the case against Collor, saying the then-president was fully aware of the criminal acts being committed by people close to him.
— From news services