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American freed after Carter's visit

An American who was jailed for illegally crossing the border into North Korea was released after a visit to the communist country by former US President Jimmy Carter.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il granted amnesty for Aijalon Gomes at former President Carter's request, a spokeswoman for Mr Carter said.

Mr Carter will return to the US with Mr Gomes, who is expected to be in Boston by Friday afternoon, Deanna Congileo said.

Mr Gomes was sentenced in April to eight years of hard labour in a North Korean prison for entering the country illegally from China.

Mr Gomes may have been emulating fellow Christian Robert Park, who was detained after he crossed into North Korea a month earlier to highlight its human rights record, said Jo Sung-rae, a South Korean human rights advocate who met with Mr Gomes. Mr Park was expelled a few weeks later.

Mr Gomes had been teaching English in South Korea when he was detained in January for entering North Korea from China, US officials said.

This week, former Mr Carter travelled to the isolated nation to try to win Mr Gomes' release.

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