Otto Warmbier was detained for removing a political banner from a hotel
US student has been sentenced by North Korea to 15 years with hard labor after being found guilty of committing crime against the state. The ruling will certainly increase tensions between America and North Korea.
The 21 year old Otto Warmbier, an economics student at Virginia University was pronounced guilty of crimes against North Korea when he allegedly tried to pinch a political banner from an area of the hotel in Pyongyang. He was staying at the same hotel.
The conviction of the American student was announced by the supreme court of the Hermit Kingdom on Wednesday. It was reported by the Xinhua news agency of China. The timing of the conviction is important since it was announced just after the United Nations Security Council imposed new sanctions on North Korea.
These sanctions have been slapped on the nation after it carried out a nuclear test and launched another rocket. The state media of North Korea did not confirm the trial which took not more than an hour.
The Korean peninsula has seen a rise in tensions during the past few weeks after America and South Korea began conducting a large military exercise – the largest ever on the peninsula. Responding to a perceived threat, the North has been threatening to hit both Seoul and Washington with nuclear weapons.
North Korea is regarding the joint drills as a precursor to a full scale invasion. A day before the ruling, the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un declared that his country will carry out a fresh round of nuclear tests in conjunction with missiles capable of carrying the warheads to many targets including the US.
The actual extent of North Korea’s nuclear capability is not yet clear but Americans believe that the country is still not ready to deliver nuclear warheads to the US. The American student, Otto Warmbier was seen begging for mercy before the media.
North Korea has used Western detainees in the past in order to compel high – level American politicians to visit the country. America is accusing North Korea of extracting confession from Warmbier, and using him as a propaganda tool.
Otto Warmbier had been arrested in January when he was boarding a flight to China marking the end of his tour. The visit was arranged by an agency that regularly organizes such tours to North Korea.