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Missionary describes interrogation in North Korea

CANBERRA, Australia — An Australian missionary detained in North Korea for trying to spread Christianity said Wednesday that he was interrogated for four hours a day and kept under 24-hour guard during a grueling 13-day investigation.

North Korea deported John Short, 75, on Monday, saying he had apologized for anti-state religious acts and requested forgiveness.

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Short said in a statement to Australian Associated Press on Wednesday that recounting biblical scriptures helped him endure the ‘‘long and grueling investigation.’’

Short, an enthusiastic walker, said his confinement in a room in Pyongyang under constant guard was stressful.

‘‘This I found to be most painful physically as an active senior person,’’ he said. ‘‘I missed my freedom to walk very much.’’

Short said he was detained on Feb. 18 as he prepared to leave his Pyongyang hotel for the airport. He said he admitted his crime as worded in the indictment: that he distributed Bible tracts with the purpose of making North Koreans become Christians.

‘‘I strongly protested that I was not a spy, nor working with any South Korean organizations, nor was I hostile to the DPRK,’’ he wrote, referring to North Korea’s official name.

He said he was told that he faced 15 years in prison for distributing religious pamphlets at a Buddhist temple and on a crowded train.

‘‘I confessed that I had knowingly broken the law in what I believed is my God-directed duty and as I do in every place and country I visit,’’ said Short, who has lived in Hong Kong since 1964.

Authorities in North Korea arrested Short for spreading Bible tracts near a Buddhist temple in Pyongyang on Feb. 16, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said.

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