North tells its citizens: Don’t return from Libya

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North tells its citizens: Don’t return from Libya

North Korea has ordered its people in Libya not to return home, apparently out of fear that they would spread news of the anti-government uprisings in the African nation, a source said yesterday.

In a letter sent to the North Korean Embassy in Libya, Pyongyang ordered its people to “follow the measures of the Libyan government” and not return home, said the source.

The move sharply contrasts with other countries’ efforts to evacuate their people from strife-torn Libya and demonstrates the Pyongyang regime’s fear of possible revolts triggered by the African nation’s pro-democracy protests, according to the source.

More than 200 North Koreans are believed to be living in Libya to earn foreign cash while working as doctors, nurses and construction workers.

Between the two Koreas, Pyongyang was first to establish diplomatic relations with Tripoli in 1974, followed by a cooperation pact signed by Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi during his visit to the North in 1982.

The South’s diplomatic ties with Libya began in 1978 with consular relations and was expanded into the full relationship in 1980 by opening embassies in each country.

North Koreans in Middle Eastern nations such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates also appear unlikely to be able to return home while anti-government protests continue in the region.

Sources say the North Korean government in recent months has tightened control over the flow of information by strictly monitoring the use of computers, mobile phones, USB memory sticks and other IT equipment.

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