[Newsmaker] Italy confirms daughter of missing N.Korea diplomat returned home

Daughter of North Korean defector was forcibly 'repatriated': Ex-diplomat

Daughter of North Korean defector was forcibly 'repatriated': Ex-diplomat

This March 20, 2018 photo provided on January 3, 2019 by Italian senator Valentino Perin, shows the senator, right, posing for a photo with then North Korean diplomat Jo Song Gil on the occasion of a cultural event with the Veneto region at a restaurant in San Pietro di Felletto, near Treviso, northern Italy.

North Korean diplomat Jo Song-gil and his wife went missing in November of past year, raising speculation that they had applied for asylum in an unspecified country.

The ambassador has defected and is seeking political asylum, said Mr Thae Yong Ho, a former senior envoy to London who turned dissident, Corriere della Sera reported.

Italy's foreign minister said Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019 that Italy is investigating whether the 17-year-old daughter of former North Korean diplomat Jo Song Gil was forcibly returned to Pyongyang as her parents apparently tried to defect.

Citing his contacts in North Korea, Thae said the teenager had been forced back to Pyongyang by a special squad of North Korean intelligence services, in retaliation to her father's alleged betrayal.

The statement said the Italian Foreign Ministry does not have any further information about the affair. "Whoever is responsible will pay, you can be sure of that".

Daughter of North Korean defector was forcibly 'repatriated': Ex-diplomat

"The daughter, having asked to return to her country and to her grandparents, had returned there on 14 November 2018, accompanied by female embassy staff", the ministry said.

On Tuesday in Seoul, Thae Yong-ho - a former North Korean diplomat who defected from the DPRK Embassy in the United Kingdom in 2016 - said that Jo's daughter had been repatriated to North Korea and was in the custody of DPRK authorities.

The Italian foreign ministry statement was published shortly after Di Stefano's post. He added Italy should have protected her and she may be being tortured by one of the worst regimes in the world.

The incident has heightened tensions between the M5S and its coalition partner, the anti-immigration League.

Salvini dodged the issue Thursday.

Italy's foreign minister says Italy is investigating whether the girl was returned to Pyongyang. "I didn't know anything about it, I have nothing to do with it", Salvini told RAI radio. "Matteo Salvini must report to parliament as soon as possible", parliamentary leader Maria Edera Spadoni said after the allegations of kidnapping were made public. Some of North Korea's apologists in the Italian government accused Jo and his wife of selfishly abandoning their daughter, who suffers from some sort of "disability", and argued she was properly returned to the care of her grandparents.

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