North Korea to put US citizen on trial

SEOUL: North Korea announced today it will put on trial a US citizen who entered the country illegally, and disclosed his identity for the first time.

The Korean Central News Agency named the man as Aijalon Mahli Gomes, 30, from Boston. It said Gomes would

be indicted for trial “as his crime has been confirmed.” The one-paragraph report gave no

details of the charges against Gomes. The North previously announced it had detained an unidentified American for illegal entry on January 25.

The State Department said last week a Swedish diplomat in Pyongyang had been allowed to see the detainee, whom it did not name, for the first time. The Swedish embassy represents US interests in Pyongyang.

Analysts said despite the trial announcement, the communist state may be preparing to expel Gomes as a goodwill gesture.

Pyongyang is pressing Washington to agree to hold talks about a permanent peace pact to replace the armistice which ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

It wants the US commitment to discuss a peace pact, and a lifting of UN sanctions, before it returns to six-nation nuclear disarmament talks.

“North Korea intends to expel him after completing legal procedures,” said Kim Yong-Hyun, a North Korea expert.