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Jimmy Carter: NKorea humanely treated American prisoner held for 7 months; given own cell

Former President Jimmy Carter says he believes North Korea humanely treated an American prisoner who was held for seven months after crossing into the country.

He said Tuesday that doctors who reviewed Aijalon Gomes (EYE'-jah-lahn gohms) after he was released to Carter's custody in August determined that he was treated "superbly."

Carter said during a discussion at the Carter Center that Gomes was given his own cell after he was arrested on Jan. 25 and sentenced to eight years' hard labor for crossing into the North from China. He said after Gomes attempted suicide, officials also gave him his own room at a hospital.

Carter says he hopes his trip jump-starts peace talks between North Korea, South Korea and the U.S.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

ATLANTA (AP) — Former President Jimmy Carter says North Korean officials asked him to travel to the peninsula to secure the release of an American prisoner.

He said Tuesday in his first public remarks since returning with Aijalon Gomes (EYE'-jah-lahn gohms) that North Korean officials told him they would only release him to Carter. Gomes was sentenced to eight years' hard labor for crossing into the North from China on Jan. 25.

Carter said he worked five weeks to get permission from the White House and State Department before making the August trip. He said during a Carter Center discussion that North Korea insisted on a retrial when he arrived, then gave Gomes a pardon.

Carter says he hopes the trip jump-starts peace talks between North Korea, South Korea and the U.S.

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