A US citizen of Korean descent who runs a Christian non-governmental organization in a Chinese city on the border with North Korea is being investigated by Chinese authorities and has had his bank accounts frozen, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing a source with direct knowledge of the case.
Peter Hahn has been under interrogation by Chinese authorities for the last three weeks and is not permitted to leave the country, according to the source, who did not know what prompted the probe.
This came after a Canadian Christian couple who run a coffee shop near the border were detained on suspicion they stole military secrets.
Sources said Hahn’s case appeared to be part of a wider sweep of Christian-run NGOs and businesses along the Chinese side of the border with North Korea.
Hahn runs a school for ethnic Korean children in the Chinese city of Tumen. Through his Tumen River Area Development Initiative, he also operates several humanitarian projects and joint venture companies inside North Korea, including a local bus service in the Rajin-Songbon Special Economic Zone, according to the wire agency.
Hahn’s company cars had been confiscated and his bank accounts frozen, while his NGO’s humanitarian food shipments to North Korea had been suspended, the report said.
In the other case, Canadian couple Kevin and Julia Garratt, who returned to China in 2008 and settled in Dandong on the North Korean border, were detained on Monday. Their investigation comes a week after Canada took the unusual step of singling out Chinese hackers for attacking a key computer network.
It is unusual for foreigners to be charged with violating China’s state secrets law, a serious crime that is punishable by life in prison or death in the most severe cases, according to the wire agency.
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