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State Department says no evidence long-missing U.S. citizen was kidnapped by N. Korea

All Headlines 05:49 September 02, 2016

WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 (Yonhap) -- The United States has seen "no verifiable evidence" that a long-missing American citizen was abducted by North Korea, the State Department said Thursday.

David Sneddon, a college student, disappeared in China in 2004. Recent media reports have said that he is living in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang after being kidnapped to teach English to current North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

But State Department spokesman John Kirby discredited the reports.

"I cannot speculate on the reasons of this disappearance. However, I can tell you that we have seen no verifiable evidence that indicate Mr. Sneddon was abducted by North Korean officials," he said at a regular press briefing.

Kirby said that the U.S. diplomatic missions in China have been in "ongoing regular contact with local authorities since David Sneddon was reported missing in China in August of 2004."

"As you know and I've said many times, one of the highest priorities of the U.S. Department of State is the welfare of U.S. citizens overseas," he said.

North Korea has a record of kidnapping foreign nationals.

In 2002, then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il admitted that 13 Japanese citizens were kidnapped to the North in the 1970s and 1980s to train communist spies in Japanese language and culture. He then allowed five of them return to Japan, saying that eight others were dead.

jschang@yna.co.kr
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