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China Arrests Korean-American Aid Worker

The entrance to a vocational school ran by Peter Hahn, a 74-year-old Korean-American in the Chinese border city of Tumen. Hahn was arrested Friday by Chinese authorities according to sources.

A Korean-American missionary and aid worker has been arrested in China and accused of embezzlement and counterfeiting.

Peter Hahn, 74, was arrested by Chinese authorities Friday, according to his attorney, Zhang Peihong. Zhang said Hahn, a Christian, had run a vocational school in the town of Tumen, near China's border with North Korea, but police closed it in July after several months of questioning Hahn about his humanitarian work. He said Hahn had provided aid to North Koreans in the past.

Zhang rejected the charges against Hahn, saying they have no merit.

The U.S. State Department said a consular official visited Hahn on Friday and would continue to provide diplomatic support.

China's foreign ministry confirmed the charges to the Reuters news service. It said Hahn had been criminally detained, which is less severe than a formal arrest.

Hahn's detention came three months after Chinese authorities arrested a Canadian Christian couple who ran a coffee shop in Dandong, a Chinese town bordering North Korea. They were arrested for suspected theft of military and intelligence information. Their fate is unknown.

Hahn's wife told Reuters last month that two U.S. nationals and three South Koreans on her husband's staff were also under investigation.

Christian missionaries frequently use Dandong as a waypoint when secretly crossing the border into North Korea or helping North Koreans who sneak out of their country.

North Korea views missionaries as spies and frequently detains or deports them. In China, stealing state secrets is punishable by the death penalty.

Material for this report came from AP and Reuters.