Grave fears that Djong Koun Tchol is in imminent danger of illegal deportation from Russia would appear to be warranted.
As already reported, Djong Koun Tchol, a North Korean national, disappeared in Moscow on 2 November after being called to the Federal Migration Service. He was carrying evidence of his application for refugee status, as well as a document from the UNHCR.
After phoning his wife from the FMS office and saying hed been asked to wait half an hour, his wife heard nothing from him for 7 days. She contacted the Civic Assistance Committee which had helped her husband make his application.
On 8 November Djong Koun Tchol phoned a friend and gave a phone number which his wife could ring him on. He answered the phone and told his wife that he had been forced into a car and taken to Vnukovo airport from where he was transported under a false name to Khabarovsk. He believed that the operation had been carried out by the FSB [Federal Security Service]. He also understood from conversations overheard that the plan was to send him back, again under a false name, to North Korea.
Djong Koun Tchol was taken to a building which he assumes was near the airport. He grabbed the chance when left in the room alone and jumped from the fourth floor window and fled. He was ringing from the home of some people who gave him shelter and let him use their phone. He was terrified and begged his wife to do something quickly to save him.
She turned to the Civic Assistance Committee who helped her make an appeal to the Human Rights Ombudsperson Vladimir Lukin. She asked him to approach the Prosecutor General and stress that Djong Koun Tchols fate must be decided in accordance with Russian Federation legislation.
When the Civic Assistance Committee attempted to call the telephone number, they were told that nobody of that name had ever been there, and were asked not to call again.
Fortunately Djong Koun Tchol contacted his wife again on 9 November. He explained that he had not answered the calls from the Civic Assistance Committee as the numbers shown werent familiar. He gave some more details including one that is extremely disturbing. He was apparently taken briefly while still in Moscow to a police station, from where an employee of the North Korean embassy took him to the embassy premises and issued a passport under a false name.
At the present time the Human Rights Ombudsperson is endeavouring to ensure that Djong Koun Tchol is put under the protection of law enforcement agencies able to ensure that any illegal deportation is prevented.
It is crucial that media and public attention are focused on any such attempts to infringe Russian legislation and its international commitments, and to send an asylum seeker back to a country where his life could be in danger.
Svetlana Gannushkina, Director of the Civic Assistance Committee