North Korea frees imprisoned Canadian pastor

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The pastor went to North Korea on January 31, 2015 for a humanitarian mission, one of more than 100 trips to the country since 1997, to support an orphanage, nursery and nursing home, his relatives and colleagues have said.

The Korea Central News Agency, the communist state's official media outlet, reported that Hyeon Soo Lim, a Canadian civilian, was released on sick bail in line with the decision of the Central Court of the North.

A court ordered Mr Lim's release "from the humanitarian viewpoint", it said in a brief two-paragraph report.

In 2015, Lim was arrested and sentenced to life in prison for what officials said was crimes against the state. The South Korean-born pastor had been accused of subversive acts against Pyongyang, an allegation which the Canadian authorities strongly denied.

The news follows the June 13 release of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who was held by North Korea for more than 17 months for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster.

South Korea, the US and others often accuse North Korea of using foreign detainees to wrest diplomatic concessions, and foreigners have said after their release that their declarations of guilt had been coerced while in North Korean custody.

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He is said to suffer from high blood pressure.

Lim's Toronto-area church has said he visited the North more than 100 times since 1997 and helped set up an orphanage and nursing home.

Last year, the 62-year-old told CNN he was the sole prisoner in a labour camp, digging holes for eight hours a day, six days a week.

Staff from the Prime Minister's Office is in Pyongyang, North Korea, to discuss the case of imprisoned Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim.

While Canada has not followed suit, its foreign ministry advises citizens against traveling to the country "due to the uncertain security situation caused by North Korea's nuclear weapons development program and highly repressive regime".

In response the United Nations approved further economic sanctions on North Korea on Saturday in an attempt to pressurise Kim Jong-un to give up his nuclear weapons. President Donald Trump warnedTuesday that North Korea's threats will be met with "fire and fury and, frankly, power the likes of which this world has never seen before".

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