UN says abduction of Laos activist appears to be linked to his human rights work

The U.N. human rights office says missing Laotian human rights activist Sombath Somphone appears to have been kidnapped because of his human rights work.

A spokesman for the office, Rupert Colville, says "we are highly concerned for his safety."

Colville urged authorities Friday to do everything possible to find Somphone, 60, last seen on Dec. 15 in video footage from a police post where he detained and driven away in a car by men in civilian clothes. The government of Laos on Thursday disavowed responsibility for the disappearance, suggesting he was kidnapped over a personal dispute.

Somphone won one of Asia's top civil awards in 2005 for his work reducing poverty and promoting education at a training center he founded.