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North Korea Denies Kidnapping American Student David Sneddon

REUTERS/KCNA

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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American student David Sneddon was reportedly kidnapped by North Korea 12 years ago, but Pyongyang argues that this story is clearly “fictitious.”

Sneddon, a native of Utah and a Brigham Young University student, vanished Aug. 14, 2004, while on a hike along the Jinsha River near Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan, China. Chinese authorities said that David, who was 24 at the time of his disappearance, probably fell in the river and drowned, but his body was never recovered. The mysteries surrounding Sneddon’s “death” have lingered for a little over 12 years now.

Reports came in early last month suggesting that Sneddon was alive in North Korea. It is said that he was kidnapped to teach Kim Jong Un English.

A resolution requesting a formal Department of State investigation into Sneddon’s disappearance is making its way through Congress. The congressional resolution on Sneddon’s case passed the House of Representatives Sept. 28.

Pyongyang is finally responding.

North Korea’s foreign ministry asserts that any indication that Sneddon disappeared at the hands of North Korean operatives is completely fabricated and an outright assault on North Korea’s international image by the U.S.

“This is a plot hatched by the Obama group, destined to sink like the setting sun due to the total bankruptcy in its hostile policy toward the DPRK, to dramatize the non-existent ‘human rights issue’ of the DPRK and tarnish its international image,” Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported, quoting the foreign minister.

North Korea is among the world’s worst human rights abusers.

A United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (COI) report cited examples of “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortion, and other sexual violence in North Korea,” according to Human Rights Watch. The U.N. report said that “the gravity, scale, and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.”

North Korea is also engaging in systematic kidnappings of foreign nationals, specifically South Korean and Japanese people, doing so for decades.

It is difficult to imagine how pinning the disappearance of David Sneddon on the North Koreans could further tarnish North Korea’s international image.

Given the North’s track record, it would not be unusual for Sneddon to have been abducted by North Korean operatives working in China; nonetheless, Pyongyang refutes the claims.

“We flatly deny and categorically reject this far-fetched assertion as a swindle which does not deserve even a passing note,” the North Korean foreign ministry explained.

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