Border-Crossing Yank Gets 8 Years in No. Korea

Experts predict he'll be freed sooner as goodwill gesture
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Apr 7, 2010 1:41 AM CDT
American Aijalon Mahli Gomes protests North Korea's human rights abuses in a rally near the demilitarized zone in January shortly before he was busted for illegally crossing into North Korea.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

(Newser) – An American detained in North Korea for illegally crossing the border has been sentenced to 8 years hard labor for his "hostile act committed against the Korean nation." Aijalon Mahli Gomes, 30, was also ordered to pay a $700,000 fine, reports the BBC. Gomes, described by pals as a devout Christian, was working as a teacher in South Korea and crossed into North Korea from China early this year.

Officials believe he entered the country to highlight human rights abuses. Experts predict he will likely be freed at some point in the near future as a goodwill gesture. Gomes was the fourth American citizen to be accused of illegally entering the country in the past year.

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