Canadian pastor freed from North Korea on his way home

Canadian pastor freed from North Korea on his way home

OTTAWA | The pastor, a canadian imprisoned for over two and a half years in North Korea and released Wednesday, is en route to Canada, said Thursday the Prime minister Justin Trudeau.

Footage from Japan's ANN television showed Lim walking on a tarmac next to Canada's national security adviser, Daniel Jean, at the Yokata Air Base on the outskirts of Tokyo.

Lim, who served in one of the largest churches in Canada, had been sentenced to hard labor for life in December 2015 after North Korea accused him of attempting to overthrow the regime.

"Pastor Lim's health and well-being remain of utmost importance to the government of Canada, and we are working to ensure that he receives any required medical attention", said Trudeau.

But according to North Korean state news media KCNA, the regime announced Lim is being released this week on compassionate grounds, aka "sick bail", due to his weakening health, according to Lim's son, James Lim.

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Rumours began a few days ago that 62-year-old Hyeon Soo Lim was to be released and confirmation appeared to come from North Korea's state news agency.

"The Government of Canada was actively engaged on Mr. Lim's case at all levels", said Trudeau.

"Operational security considerations prevent us from discussing the matter further".

Officials in the Prime Minister's Office did not confirm any further details about Lim's release or when exactly he is expected to be back on Canadian soil. (STAND UP) The Blue House initially said it would not have held an NSC meeting just because of rhetoric but made a decision to convene the standing committee for now to analyze North Korea's military movements and the objective of the regime's threats.

The European Union expanded its sanctions on North Korea as the back and forth between the United States and Pyongyang escalated.

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Charles Baik, an associate pastor with the church's English ministry, said members are ecstatic at the prospect of Lim's return.

Canadian Senator Yonah Martin, who advocated for Lim's release, said Lim was hospitalised during his imprisonment.

South Korea, the US and others often accuse North Korea of using foreign detainees to wrest diplomatic concessions, and foreigners have said after their release that their declarations of guilt had been coerced while in North Korean custody.

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