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North Korea releases Australian Christian missionary John Short Updated Mon 3 Mar 2014, 5:14pm AEDT
Australian missionary John Short has arrived in Beijing after being released by North Korean authorities.
Mr Short, 75, was arrested last month while working as a Christian missionary.
North Korea's state news agency, KCNA, said Mr Short had apologised and admitted to violating North Korean laws.
It said North Korea had decided to expel him partly in consideration of his age.
Mr Short was picked up at an airport in Beijing by Australian embassy officials on Monday but did not make any comment.
"The Government has confirmed through the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang that Mr Short has been released and was being deported from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)," the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said earlier in a statement.
"Clearly this is welcome news for Mr Short, his family and his supporters. Australian consular officials stand ready to provide assistance to Mr Short to ensure he can return to his home in Hong Kong as soon as possible.
"Noting the lack of Australian diplomatic representation in the DPRK, we take this opportunity to thank the Swedish government for their tireless efforts on this difficult consular case in recent weeks."
Mr Short, a Hong-Kong based Australian missionary, travelled to North Korea on a two-man tour with Chinese Christian Wang Chong.
The Chinese travel agency that booked the two-person trip said it was told Mr Short was carrying Korean-language Christian pamphlets in his luggage.
Mr Wang, who has since returned to Beijing, says Mr Short's problems stemmed from a visit to a Buddhist temple, where he left pamphlets promoting Christianity.
The local North Korean tour guide reported this to his superiors, who told security officials.
The officials searched Mr Short's bags at the hotel and found pamphlet materials.
Proselytising is viewed harshly inside North Korea.
American-Korean Kenneth Bae, who was found guilty of carrying out missionary work in North Korea, was sentenced to 15 years' hard labour in April last year.
In a separate incident last week, a South Korean missionary confessed to spying and attempting to build an underground church in the country.