- The Washington Times - Monday, March 3, 2014

North Korea said Monday that it has deported John Short, a 75-year-old Australian missionary whom it detained last month for crimes against the state, according to state-run media.

“The relevant organ decided to expel him from the territory of the DPRK, thanks to the tolerance of the law of the DPRK and in full consideration of his age,” the Korean Central News Agency reported.

The agency said Mr. Short “committed a criminal act by secretly spreading his Bible tracts around a Buddhist temple in Pyongyang.”

The agency also published a written apology that it attributed to Mr. Short.

“I now realize the seriousness of my insult to the Korean people on February 16th because I made the Korean people angry and for this I truly apologize,” Short was quoted as saying. “I am willing to bow down on my knees to request this tolerance of [North Korea] and the Korean people.”

Mr. Short arrived Monday in Beijing, where he was escorted to a vehicle from the Australian Embassy. He currently lives in Hong Kong.

“Clearly this is welcome news for Mr. Short, his family and his supporters,” Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement, the Associated Press reported. “Australian consular officials stand ready to provide assistance to Mr. Short to ensure he can return to his home in Hong Kong as soon as possible.”

A United Nations panel said in a report last month that North Korea “considers the spread of Christianity a particularly serious threat, since it challenges ideologically the official personality cult and provides a platform for social and political organization and interaction outside the realm of the state,” CNN reported.

“People caught practicing Christianity are subject to severe punishments in violation of the right to freedom of religion and the prohibition of religious discrimination,” the report by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea said.

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