BEIJING (AFP) – An American aid worker long based near China’s border with North Korea has been detained, his lawyer said Thursday, as Beijing intensifies a crackdown on Christian-run groups in the region.
The case of Peter Hahn comes months after Chinese authorities levelled espionage accusations against a Canadian couple active in helping send humanitarian aid to Beijing’s isolated ally. The detentions have raised alarm among overseas-based rights groups, which have warned that Christian aid workers are increasingly being targeted by China’s ruling Communist Party leaders.
Hahn, 74, who is a Korean-born naturalised US citizen, was detained Tuesday in Tumen, on the border with the North, his lawyer Zhang Peihong told AFP. He has been accused of embezzlement and counterfeiting invoices, Zhang said. Tumen police did not respond to a request for comment.
Authorities this summer froze Hahn’s bank accounts and barred him from leaving China, according to Chinese media accounts.
Hahn has been based in Tumen since the late 1990s, when he founded a Christian NGO aimed at helping Korean refugees. He set up a vocational school for local ethnic Korean teenagers in 2002 and also counts a bakery among his enterprises.