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North Korea sentences US student to 15 years’ hard labor

A court in North Korea has sentenced an American student to 15 years of hard labor for ‘crimes’ against the Asian country.

North Korea’s Supreme Court handed down the sentence to Otto Warmbier on Wednesday, China’s Xinhua news agency said.

The 21-year-old student from the University of Virginia was arrested in Pyongyang in January while leaving North Korea.

Last month, Warmbier acknowledged that he had tried to steal a banner containing a political slogan from the hotel where he had been staying.

The American student said that he had been encouraged to take the banner as a trophy for a US church that had offered to pay him for it.

“I committed the crime of taking out a political slogan from the staff-only area of the Yanggakdo International Hotel,” Warmbier said at a press conference on February 29.

American student Otto Warmbier bows at a press conference in Pyongyang on February 29, 2016. © AFP

He also apologized to the North Koreans for ‘his crime.’

Several Americans have been held in North Korea in recent years.

North Korea accuses the US of plotting with regional allies to topple its government.

The court ruling came at a time when the US led efforts to secure international sanctions against North Korea for its nuclear test and rocket launch.

Earlier this month, the UN Security Council approved a package of sanctions, under which UN member states are required, for the first time, to inspect all cargo to and from North Korea.

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