N. Korea Sentences US Man to 15 Years of Hard Labor
Kenneth Bae convicted of unspecified 'serious crimes'
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted May 2, 2013 4:01 AM CDT
In this March 20, 2013 photo, a North Korean flag hangs inside the interior of Pyongyang’s Supreme Court.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – Kenneth Bae was first accused of a takeover plot in North Korea; now the country's top court has sentenced him to 15 years' hard labor for "serious crimes," CNN reports, per the country's state news. The US State Department, which called for Bae's release "on humanitarian grounds," isn't aware of the exact charges against him, says an official, noting that Bae had visited the North using a valid tourist visa.

"This was somebody who was a tour operator who has been there in the past and has a visa to go to the North," the official says. It's possible he was arrested for photographing starving North Korean kids, according to activists in South Korea. Pyongyang may also be holding Bae as "leverage" amid international tensions, the BBC notes.

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May 2, 2013 2:01 PM CDT
As tense as things have been between the US and North Korea, exactly how stupid does one have to be to go there? What was next on his itinerary, Iran? Afghanistan? The man was stupid beyond belief and now he's paying the price for it. I have no doubt that the US will find somebody to get this idiot back. And when we do get him back, his passport ought to be taken away for life, since he's obviously too stupid to travel on his own.
May 2, 2013 7:52 AM CDT
tough titty...
May 2, 2013 7:48 AM CDT
This man was taken hostage, plain & simple. I have no doubt that Kim will not release him, unless he gets "foreign aid"...i.e. shakedown money/ransom.