North Korea Sentences U.S. Citizen to Six Years of Hard Labor

A U.S. citizen has been sentenced to six years of hard labor in North Korea after being accused of espionage. 

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North Korea's Supreme Court sentenced 24-year-old American Matthew Miller to six years of hard labor for entering the country illegally and trying to commit an act of espionage, according to KCNA, North Korea's official news agency.

KCNA said Miller committed acts hostile to North Korea while entering the country "under the guise of a tourist." Following a trial that lasted about 90 minutes, Miller was found by North Korea's Supreme Court to have torn up his tourist visa at Pyongyang's airport upon arrival on April 10 and admitted to having the "wild ambition" of "experienc[ing] prison life so that he could investigate the human rights situation."

Miller, who waived his right to a lawyer, was handcuffed after his sentencing and was denied any appeal to the decision.

In a recent interview with CNN, said he did not know the details of the charges he was facing, but said he "prepared to violate the law" of North Korea before he arrived and that he "was expecting to be detained."

State Department official Daniel Russel told Reuters last week that the U.S. found North Korean treatment of its citizens "objectionable and distressing."

"This is the way that they play," he said. "They use human beings, and in this case Americans citizens, as pawns."

Miller is one of three Americans now being held in North Korea, including one who is expected trial soon for leaving a Bible at a club and the other who is serving a 15-year sentence for alleged "hostile acts."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.