N. Korea: Imprisoned American Tried to Kill Himself
Bostonian is serving 8-year sentence
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 9, 2010 11:53 AM CDT
A Jan. 12, 2010, file photo shows American Aijalon Mahli Gomes.   (Ahn Young-joon)

(Newser) – North Korea said today an American imprisoned for illegally entering the reclusive country has tried to kill himself. Aijalon Mahli Gomes of Boston attempted suicide and is being treated at a hospital, said the country's official news agency, adding that the attempt was "driven by his strong guilty conscience" and despair that the US government has not tried to gain his freedom. His condition is unknown.

Gomes was sentenced in April to 8 years of hard labor and fined $700,000 for entering the country illegally and for an unspecified "hostile act." A spokeswoman for Gomes' family said she had not heard the news. The reported suicide attempt came weeks after North Korea threatened to increase punishment for Gomes amid tensions over the sinking of a South Korean warship. The UN Security Council approved a statement today condemning the act without directly blaming North Korea.