American sentenced to 15 years hard labor in North Korea

An American citizen, detained in North Korea for six months, has been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for "hostile acts" against the state: North Korea sentences American to 15 years' labor.

Kenneth Bae, a devout Christian and tour operator from Washington, was tried Tuesday by North Korea's highest court, accused of plotting to overthrow the government. Details on his supposed wrongdoings are extremely vague, but according to the state's official Korean Central News Agency, Bae was sentenced to "15 years of compulsory labor for this crime":

"The supreme court sentenced him to 15 years of compulsory labor for this crime," the statement said, identifying Bae by the North Korean rendering of his name, Pae Jun Ho.

The dispatch said Bae was arrested after he had entered Rason City, a special economic zone bordering China and Russia, as a tourist on Nov. 3.

Bae's friends have described him as a devout Christian who traveled frequently to North Korea in efforts to help the country's orphans.

The U.S. State Department last week called for Bae's immediate release and has been working with the Swedish Embassy on the case, according to published reports.

There was speculation in South Korean media Thursday that former President Carter would travel to North Korea to secure Bae's release, akin to what Carter did in 2010 for another American, Aijalon Mahli Gomes, who was detained in North Korea under a similar situation.
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