N. Korea Sentences US Man to 15 Years of Hard Labor

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

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. (More Kenneth Bae stories.)

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