Former President Jimmy Carter is reportedly headed to North Korea on a private trip to try to free imprisoned American Aijalon Mahli Gomes, who was arrested in January and later given and eight-year sentence for illegally entering the secretive communist country.
Carter, who frequently travels on humanitarian missions, is not representing the United States government. But a senior U.S. official told the Associated Press
that North Korea has agreed to release Gomes if Carter comes for him.
No U.S. diplomats are traveling with Carter -- a situation similar to former President Clinton's successful trip to North Korea last year to free two detained American reporters.
It is not clear why Gomes, who was teaching English in South Korea, crossed into the North. Carter's venture was first reported by Foreign Policy
magazine, which said North Korea's official media outlet reported Gomes had attempted suicide. In addition to the prison sentence, he was fined $700,000.