KCNA (North Korea), CNN (USA), BBC NEWS (UK) REUTERS
PYONGYANG – U.S. citizen Pae Jun-ho, detained in North Korea since last November, has been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, North Korean state news reported on Thursday.
Pae Jung-ho, known in the U.S. as Kenneth Bae, was tried on April 30, for allegedly committing “hostile acts against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” reports the North Korean News Agency.
A senior U.S. official declared that the State Department did not know the exact charges against Mr Pae, CNN reports. Human Rights activists however suggest that he may have been arrested for taking pictures of starving children, Reuters reports.
Mr Pae, 44, entered the country as a tourist last year and was arrested on November 3. The BBC reports that he is believed to be a tour operator who had already been to North Korea several times.
This sentence comes amid high tensions between North Korea and the US, after Pyonyang carried out its third nuclear test earlier this year, and repeatedly threatened the U.S. and South Korea.
Reuters suggests that Mr Pae could be used as a bargaining chip in talks with Washington.