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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean police said Tuesday that they’ve summoned two activists accused of raising tensions with North Korea by sending propaganda balloons or plastic bottles filled with rice across the border.

Park Sang-hak, a North Korean refugee who has floated anti-Pyongyang leaflets by balloon across the land border, and his brother Park Jung-oh, who has floated plastic bottles filled with rice across the sea boundary, were being questioned at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, an agency officer with direct knowledge of the cases said.

The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information to the media.

Police raided the offices of the Park brothers last week and confiscated leaflets, account books, mobile phone data, computer files and other materials related to their activities.

The officer said further investigation was needed before determining whether the brothers should be charged with a crime.

North Korea raised Park Sang-hak’s yearslong propaganda campaign and South Korea’s failure to prevent it earlier this month before it blew up an empty liaison office on the North’s territory and threatened other provocative steps.

South Korean officials later requested police investigate the Parks and other activists for raising tensions and potentially endangering residents living near the border.

Authorities in one province that borders North Korea have also accused several activist groups, including those of the Parks, of fraud, embezzlement and other charges over their donation activities.

The moves against the activists have invited criticism that President Moon Jae-in’s liberal government is sacrificing democratic principles to try to repair deteriorating ties with North Korea.

After his office was raided Friday, Park Sang-hak told reporters that he would keep sending leaflets toward North Korea to inform people there about their authoritarian government. He also accused the South Korean government of “gagging its people and destroying freedom of speech after succumbing” to North Korea.

Tensions eased slightly last week when North Korea announced it would put off planned steps to nullify reconciliation deals it previously reached with South Korea.

Some experts say North Korea has been intentionally raising tensions as part of a strategy to wrest outside concessions at at time when it is facing worsening economic troubles caused by U.S.-led sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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Protesters back Indiana pastor who called activists maggots

CARMEL, Ind. (AP) — Supporters of an Indiana minister who was suspended for calling organizers of the Black Lives Matter movement “maggots and parasites” walked out of a service and shouted at a bishop who ended his remarks with the words, “Black lives matter.”

The counterprotesters Sunday at St. Elizabeth Seton church in Carmel, Indiana, were opposing the suspension of Rev. Theodore Rothrock. After Bishop Timothy Doherty said “Black lives matter” at the end of his opening comments, one woman shouted “You’re a coward!,” before she was escorted out.

“Black lives matter!” chants were met with chants of “Go Father Ted!” during the demonstration called the “Gathering for Equality, Justice and Healing.” Counterprotesters argued that Rothrock was speaking the truth, according to The Indianapolis Star.

Rothrock was suspended on Wednesday from public ministry by Doherty for comparing the Black Lives Matter movement and its organizers to “maggots and parasites” in a recent church bulletin.

By 11 a.m. on Sunday, protesters and counterprotesters went from church grounds to the sidewalk, communicating their respective messages to passing cars and church attendees.

A group in support of Rothrock said their goal was not to engage with other groups but to have a presence on the church campus throughout the day.

“We feel that Father Ted spoke out in truth, and we’re to peaceably pray in support of all lives,” Jill Metz, who organized the group said. “This should not be about Black lives. All lives matter. All lives.”

Kathy Cohenour, an Indianapolis resident, said she was horrified by Rothrock’s remarks. She held a sign during the demonstration that read, “Racism is not a Catholic teaching.”

Cohenour said she’s been taking part in social justice movements since the 1960s and is thankful that the next generation continues to fight.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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