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North Korea sentences American man to six years of hard labour

Matthew Miller was arrested in April after he allegedly ripped up his visa and demanded asylum in North Korea.

Matthew Miller
Matthew Miller
Image: AP

NORTH KOREA SAYS it has sentenced detained American Matthew Miller to six years of hard labour for “hostile” acts against Pyongyang.

The sentence came some two weeks after Miller and two other detained Americans made a highly unusual televised plea to Washington to negotiate their release.

The North’s Supreme Court passed the sentence on Miller in a trial today, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said in a terse one-paragraph report.

“He committed acts hostile to the (North) while entering the territory of the (North) under the guise of a tourist last April,” it said without elaborating.

Miller was arrested in April after he allegedly ripped up his visa at immigration at Pyongyan’s airport and demanded asylum.

He apparently intended to “experience prison life so that he could investigate the human rights situation”.

He has been held in the North along with two other Americans, Kenneth Bae and Jeffrey Fowle.

The verdict came a week after the North set Miller’s trial date and some two weeks after a plea for help from Miller, Kenneth Bae and Jeffrey Fowle.

In a televised interview with CNN in Pyongyang, the three men pleaded for the US government to help them.

“My situation is very urgent,” Miller said in the September 1 interview.

“I think this interview is my final chance to push the American government into helping me,” he added.

Miller’s sentence was far lighter than that passed on Bae. Last year he was sentenced to 15 years’ hard labour on charges of seeking to topple the North’s regime.

- © AFP, 2014

Read: Warm welcome: North Korea fires rockets as Pope Francis arrives in the South > 

Read: North Korea calls James Franco and Seth Rogen’s new film an “act of war” > 

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