Moscow Engages in Diplomatic Communications Over Detention of South Korean Citizen on Espionage Charges

MOSCOW — Russia has announced that it is in close dialogue with South Korea regarding the detention of a South Korean individual in Moscow, facing allegations of espionage. The Russian government is contemplating granting the detainee consular assistance, as confirmed by a government representative on Wednesday.

According to Yonhap News Agency, a spokeswoman for Russia's foreign ministry, discussions between the two countries are ongoing following the apprehension of the South Korean, identified only by his surname, Baek, who has been in custody at the Lefortovo detention facility since late February. This development marks the initial Russian governmental acknowledgment following reports that Baek was detained under suspicion of transmitting classified information to foreign intelligence entities. Zakharova highlighted the ongoing dialogue with South Korea and the consideration for consular access but refrained from discussing Baek's specific allegations, citing confidentiality.

The dialogue between Russia and South Korea intensified following a meeting between South Korea's leading envoy to Russia, Lee Do-hoon, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko. Lee requested Russia's cooperation to safeguard Baek's well-being and rights. This meeting was prompted by a request from the South Korean embassy.

Reports from Russia's TASS news agency earlier disclosed that Baek, linked to the Global Love Rice Sharing Foundation, a South Korean Christian aid organization, was arrested on accusations of espionage, with his detention extended until mid-June. The foundation has vehemently denied these allegations, asserting Baek's innocence and describing him as a dedicated worker aiding vulnerable populations, including North Korean defectors.

The South Korean foreign ministry confirmed that it has been in contact with Russian authorities to provide the necessary consular support for Baek, emphasizing ongoing diplomatic efforts to resolve the situation. The Global Love Rice Sharing Foundation has begun initiatives to secure Baek's release, including petitioning for his freedom to the foreign ministry and the Russian Embassy in Seoul.

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