North Korea arrests another US citizen for ‘spying’

62-year-old Kim Dong Chul has been sentenced to 10 years of hard labour

 

Rachael Revesz
New York
Friday 29 April 2016 16:06 BST
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Mr Kim, who lived in Virginia, 'confessed' that he was being paid by South Korea intelligence agencies
Mr Kim, who lived in Virginia, 'confessed' that he was being paid by South Korea intelligence agencies (AP)

North Korea has sentenced an American citizen to a decade behind bars for “spying” and “stealing state secrets”.

Kim Dong Chul, a 62-year-old man of Korean origin, will serve 10 years of hard labour after he was found guilty under Articles 60 and 64 of the country’s criminal code at his short trial in Pyongyang.

Details of his alleged espionage and subversion were not immediately available.

When he had been escorted in front of the media the previous month, Mr Kim made an apparent confession that he had been working for South Korean intelligence authorities to bring down the North’s government, and that he had wanted to spread religion among its citizens.

Mr Kim, who used to live in Virginia, said he was introduced to the agency via US officials.

South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, the main agency in the country, has denied that it employed Mr Kim.

He was arrested last October in the city and special economic zone of Rason. North Korea accused him of owning a USB stick with military and nuclear secrets saved on it.

The arrest follows a 15-year sentence handed to Otto Warmbier, an American university student who was accused of “anti-state activities” while visiting the North as a tourist in 2015.


Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student from Ohio, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labour 

 Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student from Ohio, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labour 
 (Associated Press)

A Canadian pastor, Hyeon Soo Lim, was sentenced to a life of hard labour in December for so-called crimes against the state.

North Korea believes the US uses spies to overturn its government and let South Korea gain control.

The country has previously detained people until senior US officials came to secure their release. This included former president Bill Clinton making the trip to secure the release of US journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling, who entered North Korea illegally through China.

US spy chief James Clapper went over in November 2014 to bring back Mathew Miller, who was also arrested as a tourist, and Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American who had been in jail since November 2012.

Many US prisoners are forced to confess the US accuses North Korea of using its citizens as pawns in a diplomatic game but they are often released well before their full sentences are over.

Jeffrey Fowle, a US tourist, was in jail for six months before being sent home on a US government plane. He deliberately left a Bible in a local club, which is considered an offence in North Korea.

Meanwhile the dictatorship has continued to break UN sanctions by recently carrying out a series of missile tests after its fourth nuclear test in January.

On Thursday it launched two mid-range ballistic missiles which crashed, spurring an emergency UN Security Council meeting.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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