US prisoner faces harsher sentence in North Korea

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The Independent Online

North Korea has threatened to increase punishment for an American who was sentenced to hard labour for illegally entering the country, citing what it called a hostile US policy toward it.

Aijalon Mahli Gomes, from Boston, was sentenced in April to eight years of hard labour and fined $700,000 (£470,000) for entering the country illegally and for an unspecified "hostile act". The US has asked North Korea to release him on humanitarian grounds. A family spokeswoman did not immediately have a comment. North Korea has freed three other Americans detained for illegal entry, but ruled out Gomes's release amid tensions over the sinking of a South Korean warship that Seoul blames on the North.

North Korea said it was examining what harsher measures it would take against Gomes under a wartime law, and would be compelled to consider applying the law if the US persists in its "hostile approach".