Two Koreans detained in Libya meet ambassador

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Two Koreans detained in Libya meet ambassador

The South Korean ambassador in Libya has met with two South Koreans detained in the African country for allegedly breaking local religious laws, a foreign ministry official in Seoul said Thursday.

According to the official, Ambassador Chang Dong-hee met with a missionary named Koo on Tuesday and then a farmer named Jeon the following day.

“The Libyan government granted the meetings, and judicial procedures are expected to begin soon,” the official said. Diplomatic sources believe the two South Koreans will stand trial and will eventually be expelled from Libya.

Koo was arrested in June for violating Libya’s religious laws, and Jeon was arrested in July for the same charge. Libya didn’t grant consular access to them until mid-August.

Before the arrests, a South Korean intelligence agent based at the South Korean Embassy in Libya was expelled in June on espionage charges. He was accused of attempting to collect information on Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi and the country’s weapons systems.

Sources have said the agent’s case was related to the two arrests.

Upset with Seoul’s protest over the agent’s expulsion, Libya in June shut down its economic cooperation bureau in Seoul, which had been a de facto embassy. South Korea had sent delegations to Libya to clear “misunderstanding” between the two sides.

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