North Korea sentences American student to 15 years hard labour
March 16, Seoul: The High Court in North Korea has sentenced an American tourist to 15 years of hard labour in prison for allegedly attempted to steal a propaganda banner from a restricted area of his hotel.
Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student, was convicted and sentenced in a one-hour trial Wednesday morning at the North's Supreme Court. He was charged with subversion, reports said.
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.
In a statement made before his trial, he told a gathering of reporters in Pyongyang he wanted the banner "as a trophy" for the mother of a friend.
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, media reports said.
Warmbier was arrested while visiting the country with Young Pioneer Tours, an agency specialising in travel to the North, which is strongly discouraged by the US State Department.
The Oslo Times