Google executive Eric Schmidt and his private delegation called for a more open Internet access and mobile phone use in North Korea during his controversial visit to the country where information is tightly controlled.
The delegation said that giving more room for online freedom and communication would benefit the reclusive state which has been virtually isolated from the rest of the world with the regime’s efforts to filter outside information and foreign media.
Former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson said the delegation also urged Pyongyang to suspend its nuclear ambitions and ensured the “fair and humane treatment” of a U.S. citizen detained in the country.
“We enjoyed our trip to the DPRK, especially with the North Korean people, and we had a good opportunity to talk about expanding the Internet and cellphones in the DPRK,” Richardson said in an interview with AP ahead of the delegation’s departure on Thursday.
Washington criticized the visit in the wake of North Korea’s long-range rocket launch, saying it was “unhelpful” as the U.S. seeks to put pressure on Pyongyang.
The objective of the “humanitarian” trip was not immediately disclosed with many considering the visit an ironic gesture for Schimdt, an advocate of Internet freedom and openness, to a country with restrictive access and polices on the World Wide Web.