Russia arrests Korean missionary on espionage charges, Christian association says

Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart in Sochi on September 29, 2021.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart in Sochi on September 29, 2021. | AFP via Getty Images/Vladimir Smirnov

On March 19th, the Korean Christian Public Policy Association, led by Chairman Pastor So Kang-seok, issued a statement “condemning the Russian government for arresting a Korean missionary on espionage charges and urge his immediate release.”

In the statement, the association said, “It was not until March that the Russian Federal Security Service became aware that a Korean missionary who had been doing missionary work in the Russian Far East and the Primorsky Krai for the past several years was arrested on espionage charges in January of this year and is currently being detained in a detention center in Moscow.”

They said, “Russia claims that a Korean missionary is suspected of passing on Russian state secrets to a foreign intelligence agency. However, the currently detained Korean missionary is a Protestant missionary who has been providing humanitarian aid to North Korean workers for the past several years, and is a pure missionary and activist who has worked to protect the human rights of North Korean workers.”

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“So far, the Russian government has not provided an explanation as to how the missionary acquired state secrets, what type of content was obtained, and through what route and to which country he leaked them,” the association said. “Based on the missionary’s activities and experience, the Russian government’s argument is unconvincing, and we cannot avoid the suspicion that the Russian government is arbitrarily enforcing the law in consideration of its diplomatic and political relations with South Korea and North Korea.”

The statement continues by highlighting, “Article 1 of the Russian Constitution declares that it is a country ruled by law, and Article 28 of the Constitution stipulates that religious freedom is guaranteed to all individuals.”

“In particular, freedom of religion includes the right to believe in the religion of one’s choice, the right to change one’s religion, and the right to spread it,” it said.

Regarding the detention of Korean missionaries, the association stated that “it is not only a violation of the universal human rights norms stipulating freedom of religion, but also a direct violation of the Russian Constitution, so they should be released immediately.”

“Our government must also fulfill its obligation to protect its citizens under Article 2, Paragraph 2 and Article 10, Paragraph 1 of our Constitution,” the association said. “We will actively provide legal assistance to ensure the safety and release of missionaries currently in detention.”

The association called on the South Korean government to take action: “We urge you to take the necessary steps to resolve the issue by mobilizing all diplomatic channels available.”

This article was originally published by Christian Daily Korea and translated by CDI.

Christian Daily International provides biblical, factual and personal news, stories and perspectives from every region, focusing on religious freedom, holistic mission and other issues relevant for the global Church today.

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