US tourist in DPRK gets 6 years of hard labor

Updated: 2014-09-14 17:57


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PYONGYANG - US citizen Miller Matthew Todd who had been held in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) for committing "anti-DPRK acts" was sentenced to six years of hard labor, the official KCNA news agency reported on Sunday.

Miller conducted "acts hostile to the DPRK under the disguise of a tourist," the KCNA dispatch said.

The 24-year-old American had been detained since April 10 when he tore up his visa on arrival at Pyongyang's international airport in an alleged attempt to seek an asylum in the country.

The DPRK announced on Sept 7 that Miller would be sent to the country's Supreme Court for trial this Sunday.

Another US citizen, 56-year-old Jeffrey Edward Fowle, who entered the DPRK on April 29, was arrested for acts against his tourism goal and violation of the DPRK law.

Miller and Fowle were "perpetuating hostile acts," after they entered the country and an investigation carried out by the DPRK had confirmed "the suspicions about their hostile acts based on evidence and their testimonies," according to the official news agency.

Fowle will be the next to go on trial according to an announcement released by the KCNA in June saying the DPRK would pursue a further investigation and put both Miller and Fowle on trial for confirmed charges.

One day following the announcement, the United States urged the DPRK to release the two detained Americans "out of humanitarian concern."

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that "there's no greater priority for us than the welfare and safety of US citizens abroad."

The US State Department issued a travel warning in May, advising Americans against traveling to the DPRK, even by joining a group tour.

Also, Kenneth Bae, or Bae Jun Ho by his Korean name, a Korean-American missionary aged 46, was arrested for "committing hostile acts against the DPRK" in November 2012 after entering Rason City as a tourist.

Last year, Bae was was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for anti-state crimes.

On Sept 1, a group of CNN TV crew were allowed to have an interview with the three Americans being held in the DPRK.

Miller told CNN that he faced an urgent situation as he believed he would be directly sent to prison very soon.

In October 2013, 85-year-old Korean War veteran Merrill Newman was arrested and held for more than a month when he visited the DPRK via a travel agency. He was later released and deported after reading a videotaped apology for killing the DPRK soldiers and people during the 1950-53 war.