North Korea has sentenced US citizen Matthew Todd Miller to six years hard labor for committing “hostile acts” as a tourist to the country, Reuters reported on Sunday, citing a statement carried by state media.
Miller joins Kenneth Bae, a Christian missionary, to become the second American currently serving a hard labor sentence in North Korea. A third, Jeffrey Fowle, is awaiting trial.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Darby Holladay said the US is requesting that Pyongyang pardon both Miller and Bae “and grant them amnesty and immediate release so they may reunite with their families”.
The State Department also “strongly recommends against all travel by US citizens to North Korea”, Holladay was quoted as saying in a statement.
Miller, from Bakersfield, California and in his mid-20s, arrived in North Korea in April, whereupon he tore up his tourist visa and demanded Pyongyang grant him asylum, the report said. Uri Tours, the company that organized the trip, said Miller was traveling without foreign guides.
But the prosecution said Miller’s reported claims for asylum had been a “ruse”, and that he had falsely claimed to have secret information on his iPad and iPhone about the US military stationed in South Korea, the Associated Press, which was able to attend the trial, reported.
The court said Miller had torn up his visa in order to investigate the human rights situation from within a North Korean prison, AP said.
North Korea, which is under heavy United Nations sanctions related to its nuclear and missile programs, is believed to be using the detained US citizens to extract a high-profile visit from Washington, with whom it has no formal diplomatic ties, according to Reuters.
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