N Korea sentences American to 15 years

2013-05-02 10:10
Kenneth Bae (R). (AP)

Kenneth Bae (R). (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Seoul - An American detained for nearly six months in North Korea has been sentenced to 15 years of "compulsory labour" for unspecified crimes against the state, Pyongyang announced on Thursday.

The sentencing of Kenneth Bae, described by friends as a devout Christian and a tour operator, will further complicate already strained relations between Pyongyang and Washington as the countries pursue tentative diplomacy following weeks of warlike threats from North Korea.

Pyongyang's official state media said Bae's trial took place on Tuesday, but the dispatch provided few new details. Bae was tried in the country's Supreme Court on charges of plotting to overthrow the government. He could've faced the death penalty.

"The Supreme Court sentenced him to 15 years of compulsory labour for this crime," the Korean Central News Agency said.

The exact nature of his alleged crimes has not been revealed.

Bae was arrested in early November in Rason, a special economic zone in North Korea's far north-eastern region bordering China and Russia, North Korea said.

No diplomatic relations

The trial mirrors a similar situation in 2009, when the US and North Korea were locked in a standoff over Pyongyang's decision to launch a long-range rocket and conduct an underground nuclear test.

At the time, North Korea had detained two American journalists, whose eventual release after being sentenced to 12 years of hard labour paved the way for diplomacy following months of tensions.

In North Korean dispatches, Bae, a Korean American from Washington State, is called Pae Jun Ho, the North Korean spelling of his Korean name.

US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said last week that officials from the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang had visited Bae on Friday. She said she had no other information to share.

Because Washington and Pyongyang do not have diplomatic relations, the Swedish Embassy in North Korea represents the United States in legal proceedings.

Friends and colleagues said Bae was based in the Chinese border city of Dalian and travelled frequently to North Korea to feed the country's orphans.

Sixth American detained

KCNA on Thursday described Bae as a "tourist" who was arrested while committing "hostile acts" against North Korea.

At least three other Americans detained in recent years also have been devout Christians. While North Korea's constitution guarantees freedom of religion, in practice only sanctioned services are tolerated by the regime.

In 2009, American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee were sentenced to "hard labour" for trespassing and unspecified hostile acts after being arrested near the border with China and held for four months.

They were freed later that year to former President Bill Clinton, who flew to Pyongyang to negotiate their release in a visit that then-leader Kim Jong Il treated as a diplomatic coup.

Including Ling and Lee, Bae is at least the sixth American detained in North Korea since 2009. The others eventually were deported or released.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.