North Korea Sentences US Citizen To 15 Years Of Hard Labor

North Korea has sentenced a US citizen to 15 years of hard labor.

State news agency KCNA reports that Pae Jun-ho, known in the US as Kenneth Bae, was accused of anti-government crimes and plotting to overthrow North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. He was tried and sentenced on April 30. A KCNA report confirms:

“The Supreme Court sentenced him to 15 years of compulsory labour for this crime.”

Mr. Bae was detained by authorities in November 2012 after entering North Korea as a tourist. North Korean media reported last week that Kenneth Bae had confessed to various charges of crimes against the communist regime. His crimes carried the death penalty.

The 44-year-old was arrested in the northeastern port city of Rason, a special economic zone near North Korea’s border with China. He is reportedly a tour operator of Korean descent, and is the sixth US citizen to be detained in North Korea since 2009. Other US detainees have been journalists and Christians accused of seeking to convert others.

Speaking Monday, US State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said:

“The welfare of US citizens is a critical and top priority for this department. We call on the DPRK [North Korea] to release Kenneth Bae immediately on humanitarian grounds.”

Whether Kenneth Bae will serve his 15 years in the notorious North Korean labor camps is not yet certain. US citizens previously arrested in North Korea have been released after intervention from high-profile American figures.

This includes politicians such as former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. In 2009, Clinton helped negotiate the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, two US journalists who were accused of entering North Korea illegally and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor.

Whether Kenneth Bae will also be used as a bargaining chip by North Korean authorities is not yet known.

Kenneth Bae’s sentencing comes at a time of high tensions on the Korean peninsula following the North’s third nuclear test. In recent weeks, the hermit state has threatened South Korea and the US with nuclear warfare.

The Amnesty International report below reveals more about North Korea’s network of political prison camps:

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