A North Korean biochemical weapons scientist has defected to Finland, taking with him gigabytes of information on human experiments that he plans to present to EU parliament.
The expert fled a research centre on the border of China on June 6 via the Philippines, a source from a North Korean human rights group told Yonhap news agency.
“His ostensible reason for defection is that he felt sceptical about his research,” they told Yonhap.
The 47-year-old told the human rights group that he took with him 15 gigabytes of information on human experiments being carried out at the laboratory he was working at.
He will present his information in front of the EU parliament later in July, Yonhap claimed.
Director of the US-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, Greg Scarlatoiun, told Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat that Lee’s claims sounded believable.
“We have been told similar stories in the past that human experiments are carried out in prison camps,” he explained. Scarlatoiun added that it was likely the data would include evidence that North Korea had been chemical weapons on humans.
North Korea's worst human rights abuses
North Korea's worst human rights abuses
A UN report said that policies leading to mass starvation in North Korea amounted to crimes against humanity. Deaths peaked during the 1990s North Korean famine.
Defence minister Hyon Yong Chol is believed to be the latest official executed after falling foul of Kim Jong-un. As well as gruesome public executions, thousands of people have been killed in state 'purges' and for alleged anti-state crimes
Torture is prevalent in prison camps, as well as in police and security service custody.
4/11 Freedom of religion
American missionary Kenneth Bae was one of the many people detained after trying to practice their religion. The DPRK Constitution claims to protect freedom of religion but not if it as alleged of being used a a pretext for 'drawing in foreign forces or for harming the state and social order'. Christianity is frequently considered a political crime
5/11 Freedom of expression
All media is tightly-state controlled and expressing facts of opinions critical of the government or Juche ideology can lead to arrest and imprisonment. As well as being under extensive surveillance, people are encouraged to 'inform' on friends and neighbours
6/11 Freedom of thought
A UN report found that the 'DPRK operates an all-encompassing indoctrination machine which takes root from childhood to propagate an official personality cult and to manufacture absolute obedience to the Supreme Leader, effectively to the exclusion of any independent thought from the official ideology and state propaganda'
7/11 Forced labour
Prisoners are subjected to forced labour in camps, including children as young as five. Some workers are also reportedly being sent abroad to fund the government's projects
8/11 Sexual discrimination
Although women are permitted to serve in the military, their role is restrained by the Juche ideology and the UN reports that 'discrimination against women remains pervasive in all aspects of society'
9/11 Freedom of movement
Freedom of movement is severely restricted within North Korea and very few citizens are allowed to leave the country. Immigrants found in China can be forcible repatriated and punished on their return. The right for foreigners to enter is also severely restricted.
10/11 Prison camps
Many of the worst abuses reported take place at prison camps, some specifically for political crimes. The camps officially do not exist but have been photographed using satellite. Inmates are 'forcibly disappeared' and usually imprisoned until death
11/11 Reproductive rights
Forced abortions have been reported for imprisoned women, often after being raped by guards. Mothers and babies frequently die in childbirth because of a lack of adequate care, often delivering babies unaided at home.
Finland’s Foreign Ministry told the Helsingin Samomat that it could not confirm whether Lee had entered the country, or comment on his plans to take evidence to parliament.
Officially, North Korea claims that it does not have chemical weapons. But according to research by the US Korea Institute at SAIS published by 38North – the nation produces 20 different chemicals for use in weapons.
Though obtaining precise figures is difficult, it is thought that North Korea produced 4,500 tonnes of chemical agents in peacetime and 12,000 in wartime.
Lee is not the first defector to make claims of the unethical nature of the country’s testing methods. In December 2014 a former officer of the special forces came forward said how the regime was testing chemical and biological weapons on disabled children and adults.Reuse content