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North Korea defector may leave China today

North Korea's top ideologue, holed up in a South Korean diplomatic mission in Beijing, may leave China as early as today for the Philippines, state radio reported.

Korea Broadcasting System said that Hwang Jang Yop was still in the Beijing consulate but that South Korean ambassador Chung Chong Wook had bade him farewell. A Seoul foreign ministry spokesman declined to comment on the report.

"We have decided not to talk about Hwang's whereabouts or the timing of his departure," the spokesman said.

The radio report said Hwang was expected to spend a month in Subic Bay, a former U.S. naval base north of Manila and now a free port with an international airport, before being brought to South Korea.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon said his country had been asked to serve as a transit point for Hwang if he was permitted to leave for South Korea.

Hwang is the most senior official to flee the impoverished North. He has been marooned in the consular compound since arriving on Feb. 12 while Chinese and South Korean officials negotiate his fate.

Detained man says he had

no part in Saudi bombing

TORONTO _ Canada has detained a Saudi man for alleged links to a bomb blast in Saudi Arabia last year that killed 19 U.S. soldiers.

But Fahad Shehri told the Toronto Star he wasn't even in Saudi Arabia when the bomb went off in June at a military complex in eastern Saudi Arabia near Dhahran, injuring about 400 people.

"They're saying I'm a terrorist when I have nothing to do with all of this," said Shehri, 21, who is being held in Ottawa.

Shehri, who applied for refugee status when he arrived at the Ottawa airport on Dec. 6, said he doesn't believe in violence and fears for his life if he is sent back.

He was detained by immigration officials three days after he arrived.

Canadian officials claim Shehri told them he belonged to a Saudi opposition group linked to the bombing. They say he denied involvement in the bombing but admitted selling guns for the group.

But Shehri denied that. "My work was relief work, and I didn't deal with arms whatsoever," he told the Star.

"I was active in Saudi Arabia _ sending faxes, giving out brochures; I was advocating democracy," he said.

Shehri said he was associated with the Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights, which opposes the ruling regime in Saudi Arabia.

The London-based committee wants to make Saudi Arabia even more strictly Islamic. It claims to have underground cells in Saudi Arabia, but does not advocate violence.

Four Saudi suspects arrested in connection with the bombings cited the committee as being a major influence.

Saudi officials say they are not seeking Shehri.

Elsewhere . . .

TOKYO _ On Saturday, the state-run nuclear power agency disclosed that the amount of radiation released at Japan's only nuclear energy reprocessing plant after a fire and explosion Tuesday was 10 times the intensity originally reported. Officials said this still was not enough to cause harm.