August 24, 2010 / 12:54 AM / 9 years ago

Carter en route to N.Korea to free U.S. prisoner: report

Former President Jimmy Carter speaks during an interview with Reuters in Juba, south Sudan in this April 13, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

SEOUL (Reuters) - Former President Jimmy Carter has left the United States and is en route to North Korea on a mission to win the release of an American being held prisoner there, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said on Wednesday.

Carter, 85, and his wife are flying in a private jet and not a U.S. military plane, Yonhap said, quoting a U.S. diplomatic source.

A U.S. official had said Carter would travel to the North on a private humanitarian mission to secure the release of Aijalon Mahli Gomes, who was sentenced by the communist state to eight years of hard labor.

Gomes tried to commit suicide out of despair, the North’s state media said last month.

Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner

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