Carter Center photoFormer President Jimmy Carter left North Korea this morning having secured the release of Mr. Aijalon Mahli Gomes. Mr. Gomes was imprisoned by Pyongyang officials in January and later sentenced to eight years of hard labor with a fine of about $600,000 for the crime of illegal entry into North Korea.

At the request of President Carter, and for humanitarian purposes, Mr. Gomes was granted amnesty by the Chairman of the National Defense Commission, Kim Jong-Il.

It is expected that the 31-year-old teacher will be returned to Boston, Mass., this afternoon, to be reunited with his mother and other members of his family.

This was a private mission of The Carter Center, and was neither requested nor sponsored by the U.S. Government.  

The Carter Center, founded in 1982 as a not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy and human rights; preventing diseases;  and expanding economic opportunities and teaching farmers in developing nations to increase crop production.

(READ more in the Guardian)

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