China police question US citizen in city near Noth Korea border: Source

BEIJING (REUTERS) - A Korean-American man who runs an NGO in a Chinese city on the border with North Korea is being investigated by Chinese authorities and has had his bank accounts frozen, a source with direct knowledge of the case told Reuters on Thursday.

Peter Hahn, a naturalised U.S. citizen, has been under interrogation by Chinese authorities for the last three weeks and is not permitted to leave the country, said the source, who requested anonymity, citing the sensitive nature of the case.

The source did not say what prompted the investigation.

China on Tuesday said it was investigating a Canadian Christian couple who ran a coffee shop in Dandong, a town south of Tumen along the border with North Korea, on suspicion they stole military and intelligence information.

Mr Hahn runs a school for ethnic Korean children in the border city of Tumen and, through his Tumen River Area Development Initiative (TRADI) NGO, operates several humanitarian projects and joint venture companies inside North Korea, including a local bus service in the Rajin-Songbon Special Economic Zone.

The school declined to comment when asked about the case, and Tumen police could not be reached for comment.

A spokesman at the U.S. embassy in Beijing said he could not provide any information on the matter.

Mr Hahn's company cars had been confiscated and his bank accounts frozen, the source said, adding that his NGO's humanitarian food shipments to North Korea had been suspended following the freeze.

The source said that Mr Hahn was a Christian and was open about his faith.

The investigation into Canadians Kevin Garratt and his wife Julia Dawn Garratt came a week after Canada took the unusual step of singling out Chinese hackers for attacking a key computer network and lodged a protest with Beijing. In response, China accused Canada of making irresponsible accusations that lacked credible evidence. "With the Garratts, that was tit-for-tat with what happened in Canada. Peter Mr Hahn is a different issue, I think it's more related to his faith and the work he was doing," said David Etter, recently forced to close his Christian-run Western restaurant in Yanji, near Tumen, citing a lack of customers. "He was very open about his faith and why he was doing what he was doing," he said.

Register here to get free digital access to The Straits Times until Aug 9, 2015.
Comments