North Korea today, March 16 sentenced an American student, Otto Warmbier, to 15 years of hard labor for crimes against the state. The sentence was handed down by North Korea’s Supreme Court.
Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia student, was detained in January for trying to steal an item bearing a political slogan from his hotel in the capital Pyongyang.
Warmbier, who is from the city of Wyoming in Ohio, said that his crime “is very severe and pre-planned.”
“I entirely beg you and the government of DPRK for your forgiveness,” a tearful Warmbier said at a press conference in February. “Please, I’ve made the worst mistake of my life. But please act to save me.”
Warmbier was arrested on January 2 after he was detained by immigration officials. Warmbier was returning to China after wrapping up a five-day tour to DPRK along with other tourists, according to the tour operator that arranged the trip.
There was no immediate confirmation by North Korean state media of the sentence which appeared to come just hours after veteran US diplomat Bill Richardson reportedly met with two diplomats from North Korea’s UN office to press for Warmbier’s release.
Source: Xinhua news/Reuters