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U.S. student David Sneddon alive in North Korea, activist says

Sneddon's case is under U.S. investigation.

By Elizabeth Shim
U.S. student David Sneddon alive in North Korea, activist says
An American student who may have been kidnapped while traveling in Yunnan Province has been seen in North Korea, a South Korean activist said. UPI/Stephen Shaver | License Photo

Feb. 6 (UPI) -- An American student who went missing while hiking in China is alive, according to a South Korean activist who said he has information of David Sneddon's whereabouts.

Choi Sung-ryong, an activist who represents the families of people abducted to North Korea, said a source in North Korea confirmed Sneddon is in the country and was moved to a remote location in Mount Myohyang, after the case gained international attention in 2016.

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Sneddon was also seen at the Chosun Red Cross Hospital in Pyongyang and at the state-sanctioned Bongsu Church, according to eyewitnesses, Choi said.

The U.S. government is investigating the case. Sneddon's family believes he was kidnapped to North Korea more than a decade ago.

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There is speculation Sneddon was abducted to Pyongyang to teach Kim Jong Un and his sister Kim Yo Jong, South Korean newspaper Donga Ilbo reported on Tuesday, local time.

Choi said he met with U.S. officials in 2016 at the U.S. embassy in Seoul regarding the Sneddon case.

"I was also asked whether I could testify before the United States Congress," Choi said.

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The activist has sources in North Korea who have previously helped him identify more than 20 South Korean nationals living in Pyongyang.

Choi told the Donga Sneddon is currently classified as a missing person by the U.S. government, but if more evidence is collected the missing U.S. citizen could be reclassified as the first officially recognized American abductee in North Korea.

Choi's North Korea source told him Kim Jong Il had issued a "special decree" in 2004, instructing his subordinates that he needed an English teacher to teach his son and daughter about American culture.

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North Korea agents abducted Sneddon in 2004, and then took him to Pyongyang using a route that crossed into Myanmar, Choi said.

North Korea dismissed the allegations last October, calling the abduction story "fictitious."

Sneddon's parents have said they have reason to believe their son has been kidnapped.

"Our goal is to ensure that the U.S. government does everything possible to investigate his likely abduction and secure his safe return," the family has said in a statement.

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