NY POST – The US student sentenced to 15 years of hard labor by North Korea’s supreme court was convicted for trying to steal a banner invoking former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, state media footage of the trial indicates.
The court sentenced the student, Otto Warmbier, on Wednesday for “crimes against the state,” North Korean media reported.
The United States condemned the punishment as politically motivated and called on North Korea to pardon the University of Virginia student from Wyoming, Ohio, and release him on humanitarian grounds.
The sentencing came as North Korea is increasingly isolated and facing tough new UN resolutions following a nuclear test in January and a rocket launch last month. A White House spokesman said it was “increasingly clear” North Korea sought to use US citizens as pawns to pursue a political agenda.
North Korean state media said Warmbier had tried to steal an item bearing a political slogan. A state media picture showed a banner, presented as evidence during his one-hour trial, appearing to bear a slogan extolling the country’s late leader.