Head Of Colorado NGO Was A U.S. Spy In North Korea

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Photo: Korea DMZ (AP Photo)
South Korean army soldiers in the fog patrol along the barbed-wire fence near the border village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas since the Korean War, in Paju, South Korea in Febuary 2013.

North Korea is a risky place to travel. Even more so if you're a spy. But that didn't stop the Pentagon from using unwitting Christian missionaries and aid workers as spies in the country.

A new investigation reveals that a now defunct Colorado non-profit -- Humanitarian International Services Group -- was at the center of this top secret espionage program.

From the story:

[Kay]Hiramine’s NGO, Humanitarian International Services Group, or HISG, won special praise from the president for having demonstrated how a private charity could step in quickly in response to a crisis. “In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina,” read Hiramine’s citation, “HISG’s team launched a private sector operation center in Houston that mobilized over 1,500 volunteers into the disaster zone within one month after the hurricane.”

But as the evangelical Christian Hiramine crossed the stage to shake hands with President Bush and receive his award, he was hiding a key fact from those in attendance: He was a Pentagon spy whose NGO was funded through a highly classified Defense Department program.

Matthew Cole broke this story for the investigative news site "The Intercept." He spoke with Ryan Warner.