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Canadian couple set up agency to help fund North Korea aid trips, says friend

Published on Aug 7, 2014 10:18 AM
Canada's Kevin Garratt (left), his wife Julia Dawn Garatt (second left) and his son Simeon (right) pose for a picture with his daughter Hannah during her graduation, in this undated handout provided to Reuters by Simeon. --PHOTO: REUTERS 

VANCOUVER/TORONTO (REUTERS) - A Canadian couple detained in China amid spying allegations made regular trips to deliver goods to North Korea, their close friend and pastor said on Wednesday, and set up a British Columbia-based organisation to collect funds for their work.

Rich Kao, head minister at a small church just outside Vancouver that backs the Garratt's North Korea-focused charity, North Star Aid, said the trips were humanitarian ventures.

Kao said the Garratts, who moved to China in 1984, had been doing missionary work in the country but came back to Canada about seven years ago. Soon after, they joined his church and then launched North Star Aid, the North Korea-focused aid group that has come under the spotlight since news of the Garratts'detention emerged.

Kevin and Julia Garratt, who returned to China in 2008 and settled in Dandong on the North Korean border, were detained Monday. The investigation comes a week after Canada took the unusual step of singling out Chinese hackers for attacking a key computer network.

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