North Korea sentences US tourist to 15 years in prison

US Student Pleads in North Korean Court
US Student Pleads in North Korean Court

North Korea has sentenced an American student to 15 years of hard labor after accusing him of removing a political banner from a hotel.

Warmbier had traveled to Pyongyang on a trip organized by Young Pioneer Tours, a China-based travel company. He was arrested on January 2, 2016, as he was about to board a plane to leave the country, on the charge of committing a hostile act against the state.

Video (Warmbier gets 15 years hard labor)

In court Wednesday, North Korean officials presented fingerprints, photos of a political banner and surveillance images as proof that Warmbier committed crimes against the regime.

The North Korean government alleged that Warmbier was encouraged to commit the “hostile act” by a purported member of a church in his home state of Ohio, a secretive university organization and even the CIA.

Twitter (Warmbier pleads with court)

The 21-year-old student pleaded for mercy. “My brother and my sister need me,” he said. “I beg that you see that I am only human, how I have made the worst mistake of my life.”

Warmbier admitted to attempting to steal a banner with a political slogan from his hotel in the North Korean capital. It is not known whether Warmbier made the admission under duress. Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years hard labor.

The U.S. State Department fired back Wednesday, saying the punishment doesn’t fit the alleged crime and are asking the North Korean Government to release him on humanitarian grounds.

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