74 year old Korean-American missionary arrested in China

by Staff, |
A woman holds an umbrella on an escalator in the financial district of Pudong, Shanghai, November 25, 2014. | REUTERS/Aly Song

SHANGHAI (Christian Examiner) -- Korean-American missionary Peter Hahn was arrested by Chinese authorities while near the China-North Korea border Friday, according to reports. The 74-year-old was in the town of Tunmen, China when he was detained for accusations of embezzlement and counterfeiting receipts.

Hahn, an aid worker, runs an aid agency and vocational school for North Koreans in the area. It also functions as a camp for missionaries and as a result, he and other staff have been under investigation by the Chinese government for months. The school was shut down in July. The missionary's lawyer, Zhang Peihong, believes that his client is being targeted for his Christian faith.

"The charges leveled against him are just excuses" to go after a Christian missionary, the Shanghai attorney told the Associated Press. He said the Communist government is attempting to crackdown on Christian non-profit organizations in the area.

Hahn, who fled North Korea years ago, admitted previously that he aided other North Korean defectors over a decade ago but has not since then. U.S. State Department staff visited the missionary in jail Friday.

"We take our obligation to assist U.S. citizens seriously and we stand ready to provide consular services," Jen Psaki said during a news briefing in Washington.

Hahn's arrest follows the arrest of Canadian Christians Kevin and Julia Garratt earlier this year. The Garratts lived in China since 1984 and opened a coffee shop in the area in 2008, Reuters reported. In August they were accused of stealing state secrets.

"Kevin Garratt and his wife... are suspected of collecting and stealing intelligence materials related to Chinese military targets and important Chinese national defense scientific research programs, and engaging in activities that endanger China's national security," China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The couple is being investigated by the Dandong State Security Bureau.