The abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korea.

David Sneddon, the American student who disappeared in Yunnan province.

North Korea is strongly suspected of his abduction.

August 14, 2004, a 24 year old American, David Sneddon, disappeared in Shangri-La in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Deqen, Yunnan Province (south China). The possibility of abduction by North Korea is more than likely. Chuck Downs, a leading American expert on the problems of North Korea, who at the time presided the « U.S. Committee for Human Rights» , was the first to voice such suspicions.

Last photo taken of David Sneddon
(Yunnan, China)

David Sneddon grew up in a Mormon family. He lived in South Korea as a missionary for two years, and spoke Korean fluently. After returning home, he began to learn Chinese and in the spring of 2004, he went on a study trip to the Institute of International Relations in Beijing. Before returning to the United States to pursue his law degree at Brigham Young University, David Sneddon decided to spend the summer in the south of China.

In Yunnan province, during a hike along Tiger Leaping Gorge, he stopped at Shangri-La and decided to spend the night. The last thing we know about him is that he ate at a Korean restaurant in the city. On 28th April 2012, David’s parents and his brother James were invited to Tokyo to participate in the Great Popular Assembly on the abduction issue. James spoke in Japanese to ask for an intensification of the Japan-US cooperation on this subject. Japanese officials have raised no objections as to the suspicions shared by Chuck Downs and David’s family about the likely involvement of North Korea in this case.

During a week from the 6th May, members of the AFVA, the NARKN and a parliamentary group on the abduction issue, went to Washington to treat David Sneddon’s case and to bring new information in order for the U.S. authorities to resume investigations and engage in international efforts on the abduction issue.

New information from the AFVA

The AFVA recently received important information from Chinese sources. For safety reasons, these sources will not be disclosed.

In August 2004, an American student at a university in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan, was arrested by the National Security Bureau for helping an illegal alien. This student was 23 or 24 years old. He was released in September. Subsequently, he was arrested by a group of five officers belonging to the Department of State Security of North Korea who had came to Kunming to monitor renegade North Korean citizens who were there.

Concuring points between this man’s arrest and the disappearance of David Sneddon are:

  1. Both events happened in August 2004.
  2. The location (Yunnan Province) is the same. David Sneddon disappeared in Shangri-La, a prefecture of Yunnan Province.
  3. He was Caucasian.
  4. The arrested man was 24 years old. This is the age that David was when he disappeared
  5. He was a student, like David.
  6. The cause of the arrest (assisting an illegal alien) may suggest that David wanted to help a North Korean who had fled the country. Just before coming to Yunnan, he had befriended another American who studied Korean diaspora in China. The fact that David had actually helped North Koreans escape could not be verified. Still, this relationship probably raised the suspicions of the Sino-North Korean officials.

This new information makes it more than likely that David Sneddon was abducted by North Korea. It also suggests that the Chinese secret police, through the National Security office, most likely had a connection with the kidnapping.

On the basis of these new elements brought to the David Sneddon file on May 8, 2012 by AFVA, the NARKN and the parliamentary group, two days later, on May 10th, the State Department of the United States as well as influential people in the House of Representatives, raised the question to Mr. Lei Hong, then deputy spokesman of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the regular press conference. The latter replied that despite intensive research by the National Bureau of Security, David Sneddon could not be found. Eight years after his disappearance, this was the official response from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

On May 15th, North Korea, through its agency the Korean Central New Agency (the North Korean government press) denies any involvement in the Sneddon case. Again, the speed of reply is striking.