An American man detained in North Korea since April for allegedly committing “hostile acts” against the secretive regime has been sentenced to six years of hard labor at one of North Korea’s notorious labor camps.
24-year-old Matthew Miller of Bakersfield, California was found guilty after a brief trial during which he allegedly declined the right to a lawyer. North Korea alleged that he arrived in Pyongyang with a tour group, and, at the airport, allegedly tore up his passport and claimed he wanted to “seek asylum,” according to The New York Times.
However, prosecutors claimed the move was a ruse, and Miller was actually in North Korea to commit espionage, and specifically, wanted to be sentenced to a North Korean labor camp so that he could document the atrocities there. According to The Guardian, prosecutors also alleged that Miller claimed to have secret U.S. military information on his electronic devices.
Since being detained in April, Miller and another American detained in North Korea have repeatedly called on the U.S. to assist them, according to this Inquisitr report. It is unclear if those please were coerced by the men’s captors.
“My situation is very urgent. I think this interview is my final chance to push the American government into helping me.”
Miller is one of three Americans known to be detained in North Korea. Dr. Kenneth Bae, an American missionary, is currently serving 15 years at hard labor for allegedly attempting to set up an underground network of Christian proselytizers, according to The Guardian. The other, 56-year-old Jeffrey Fowle of Ohio, is accused of leaving a Bible in a bathroom at a sailor’s bar.
The North Korean government has been using the detention of all three men as leverage to force concessions out of the U.S., according to senior State Department official Daniel Russel.
“This is the way they play. They use human beings, and in this case Americans citizens, as pawns. And we find that both objectionable and distressing.”
The U.S. has, at least superficially, attempted to negotiate with North Korea for the men’s release, offering to send diplomat Robert King. However, the North Koreans have refused negotiations with King. In the past, North Korea has released American detainees when more high-profile ambassadors – such as former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton – have negotiated for their release.
Would you ever visit North Korea as a tourist like Matthew Miller and Jeffrey Fowle? Let us know in the Comments.
[Image courtesy of: Fox News]