KABUL: (MEP) North Korea has sentenced an American college student to 15 years’ hard labour who allegedly attempted to steal a propaganda banner from a restricted area of his hotel, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported Wednesday.
The sentence was handed down by the country’s Supreme Court, Xinhua said in one-line dispatch datelined Pyongyang.
Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student, was convicted and sentenced in a one-hour trial Wednesday morning. He was charged with subversion.
There was no immediate confirmation of the trial, by the North Korean state media.
Warmbier was arrested in early January as he tried to leave the country after visiting as a tourist with a New Year’s tour group.
Appearing to read from a statement, he said: “I committed the crime of taking down a political slogan from the staff holding area of the Yanggakdo International Hotel.”
“I never, never should have allowed myself to be lured by the United States administration to commit a crime in this country,” he said tearfully, as he begged for forgiveness.
North Korea regularly accuses Washington and Seoul of sending spies to overthrow its government to enable the US-backed South Korean government to control the Korean peninsula.