North Korea Sentences American Student to 15 Yrs.

North Korea handed down a harsh sentence to young American student after he allegedly stole a banner from his hotel in January.

By Bronte Price, PoliticKING

A U.S. State Department spokesman spoke out on Wednesday against North Korea's decision to sentence a 21-year-old American student to 15 years of hard labor, calling it "unduly harsh." According to a North Korean official, Otto Frederick Warmbier, who is a student at University of Virginia was sentenced for crimes against the state after he allegedly tried to steal a banner.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that the punishment doesn't fit the alleged crime.

"Now that Mr. Warmbier has gone through this criminal process, we would urge the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] to pardon him and to grant him special amnesty and immediate release on humanitarian grounds," Toner said.

Warmbier had traveled to Pyongyang through a Chinese travel company and was arrested in early January, as he was about to leave the country. During a press conference last month, Warmbier admitted to attempting to stealing a banner with a political slogan from his hotel in Pyongyang.

Reading from a statement, the student said, "I committed the crime of taking down a political slogan from the staff holding area of the Yanggakdo International Hotel."

"I never, never should have allowed myself to be lured by the United States administration to commit a crime in this country," he continued through tears.

"I wish that the United States administration never manipulate people like myself in the future to commit crimes against foreign countries. I entirely beg you, the people and government of the DPRK, for your forgiveness. Please! I made the worst mistake of my life!"

The State Department spokesman accused North Korea of politicizing the arrests of U.S. citizens, on Wednesday saying, "It's increasingly clear from its very public treatment of these cases."

Here’s what Former CIA covert operations officer Bryan Dean Wright has to say about North Korea’s power struggle:

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