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To Dodge Charges, He Fled US, Joined Russian Military

Wilmer Puello-Mota left the US days before trial in January

(Newser) - A former city councilor and member of the Massachusetts National Guard who fled the country in January, days before he was to be tried for child pornography in Rhode Island, has apparently defected to Russia and joined the military. Wilmer Puello-Mota, a former city councilor in Holyoke, Mass., was first...

In Slaying of Russian Defector, a Brutally 'Clear Message'

Maksim Kuzminov was shot to death in Spain earlier this year, with the Kremlin suspected

(Newser) - The New York Times has followed up on the high-profile murder of a Russian helicopter pilot who defected to Ukraine, finding that the slaying of Maksim Kuzminov has renewed fears that the Kremlin's overseas hit teams are alive and well. Among the points:
  • The two men who killed him

He Became Obsessed as a Boy at Fleeing North Korea

BBC shares gripping story of man who dreamed for years of escaping to the South, then finally did it

(Newser) - When a defector fled from North Korea earlier this year with his family, it was the fulfillment of a scheme he'd been planning for seven months. Now, the BBC has the story of what it describes as a "seemingly impossible escape," with as many dangerous obstacles as...

This Is an Unusual Way to Defect to South Korea

4 suspected defectors from North Korea found in small wooden boat in South Korean waters

(Newser) - Four North Koreans were found in a small wooden boat in South Korean waters on Tuesday in what's likely a rare case of North Koreans taking a risky sea voyage to flee to the South, Seoul officials said. More than 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea...

Family: Soldier Who Crossed Into North Korea Was Grieving

Family is giving insight into Travis King's mental state

(Newser) - The family of Pvt. 2nd Class Travis King, the 23-year-old American soldier who crossed into North Korea on Tuesday , is speaking out on his recent mental state. An uncle says that King, who had served two months in a South Korean prison on assault charges and was headed back to...

Biden's Accuser Defects to Russia
Biden's Accuser
Defects to Russia

Biden's Accuser Defects to Russia

Tara Reade says she finally feels 'safe,' 'heard,' and 'respected'

(Newser) - Tara Reade has defected to Russia. The woman who accuses President Biden of sexually assaulting her when she worked in his Senate office in 1993 revealed the move in a Tuesday news conference in Moscow that "lasted several hours," CNN reports. Reade spoke with Russian state media outlets...

Russian Defector on Putin: 'He's Simply Afraid'

Gleb Karakulov, who protected Putin for years, says Putin avoids internet, travels on secret train

(Newser) - Russian President Vladimir Putin is "pathologically afraid for his life" and uses an untrackable armored train in an effort to protect it, according to the highest-ranking intelligence official to defect from Russia since the start of its war in Ukraine. Gleb Karakulov—who defected with his wife and daughter...

Man Who Crossed DMZ Into North Korea Believed to Be Gymnast

He is believed to have first defected from North to South last year

(Newser) - Update: The person who crossed the DMZ to enter North Korea over the weekend is a male gymnast, Seoul says. He is believed to have defected from North to South Korea last year, and on Saturday made his way back, the BBC reports. Why he did so is not clear,...

A North Korean Defector's Past Came Back to Haunt Her

Song Chun Son assumed she'd be free in the South. Not so

(Newser) - To say that Song Chun Son's life in North Korea wasn't great wouldn't be much of a stretch. She was thrown into a labor camp from 2007 to 2009 after illegally traveling to China in search of food during a famine. She later did illegal work as...

'Wailing' NK Defector Caught After 40 Days on Run

Zhu Xianjian, who had 2 years left in Chinese prison sentence before he escaped, is recaptured

(Newser) - Zhu Xianjian had his 11-year sentence slashed two times due to good behavior, but his break out of a Chinese prison last month with two years left behind bars likely just nullified his chances for an early release. The 39-year-old defector from North Korea is about to find out: He...

This Is the Largest Cuban Athlete Defection in Years

9 baseball players defect during tournament in Mexico

(Newser) - While playing in a tournament in Mexico this weekend, nine members of a Cuban baseball team defected. While Cuban athletes have a history of defecting while competing in other countries, this was the largest athlete defection in years, the BBC reports. The Cuban government confirmed the defections Sunday, calling them...

Belarus Sprinter Is Latest in a Long Line of Olympic Defectors

Dozens of Hungarians defected in 1956 after Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest

(Newser) - Belarus sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya is now officially a political exile—and the latest in a long line of Olympic defectors, many of them from authoritarian regimes in Eastern Europe. Unlike many of her predecessors, Tsimanouskaya didn't travel to the Olympics planning to defect, the AP reports. The 24-year-old, who...

Fleeing the Games, Sprinter Made a Last-Minute Switch

Wary of security, Belarus sprinter changed flight plans from Warsaw to Vienna at last minute

(Newser) - Change of travel plans for Krystsina Tsimanouskaya—she's headed to Vienna instead of Warsaw, at least initially. The Washington Post reports on the continuing drama swirling around the 24-year-old Olympic sprinter, who boarded a plane bound for Poland on Wednesday, less than three days after Belarus authorities took her...

Belarusian Sprinter Speaks Out
Belarusian Sprinter Speaks Out
the rundown

Belarusian Sprinter Speaks Out

'I don’t think I can ever go back to Belarus,' says Krystsina Tsimanouskaya

(Newser) - The Belarus sprinter who is refusing to go home has given her first interviews since the Olympic controversy erupted. In them, 24-year-old Krystsina Tsimanouskaya makes clear that she hopes to run in future Olympics, though not for her native country. Coverage:
  • “I don’t think I can ever go

North Korean Defector Used Tunnel Unknown to South

Alarms were ignored as man swam ashore, wandered for 6 hours

(Newser) - The North Korean man found in South Korea last week appeared eight times on surveillance cameras without anyone noticing, according to a report from South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff. Alarms sounded twice after the man came ashore around 1:05am on Feb. 16, but the soldier in charge...

Latest South Korean Embarrassment: Guy in Flippers

Possible North Korean defector reportedly swam across border, crawled through beach drain pipe

(Newser) - Soldiers came upon a North Korean man wearing a wetsuit and flippers walking down a road in South Korea on Tuesday. It was "the second embarrassing breach for the South Korean military's border security in recent months" after a North Korean defector traversed the Demilitarized Zone, reaching a...

Defector Crossed DMZ Undetected Thanks to Loose Screw

Sensors were supposed to alert South Korean guards

(Newser) - The latest defection from North Korea is a worry for South Koreans—and not because they fear an onslaught of gymnasts leaping over the border. The defector, who showed up on the South Korean side of the heavily fortified DMZ earlier this month, managed to get past a border equipped...

Mystery of How Defector Got Over DMZ Fence May Be Solved

North Korean man tells South Korean officials he's a gymnast who simply jumped over it

(Newser) - The North Korean man who arrived in South Korea this month claims to be a former gymnast, and it makes sense, as he apparently propelled himself over a 10-foot-tall barbed wire fence during his trip across the Demilitarized Zone . The man, said to be in his late 20s, reportedly spent...

North Korean Crosses DMZ, Asks to Defect: Report

Man in plainclothes began crossing 2.5-mile-wide zone on Tuesday

(Newser) - South Korea has detained a North Korean man who showed up on its side of the heavily fortified border separating the Korean Peninsula on Wednesday. The suspected defector in plainclothes was first observed crossing barbed wire fences in the eastern section of the 2.5-mile-wide, 155-mile-long Demilitarized Zone around 7:...

Iranian Olympic Medalist Defects, Cites Oppression
Olympian Defects From Iran

Olympian Defects From Iran

'Whatever they said, I wore,' says Kimia Alizadeh, the nation's only female medalist

(Newser) - Iran's only female Olympic medalist said she defected from the Islamic Republic in a blistering online letter in which she described herself as "one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran." Taekwondo athlete Kimia Alizadeh posted the letter on Instagram, the AP reports, as Iran's...

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