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Newsline: US warns against all travel to North Korea as student sentenced to 15 years of hard labour

The US State Department “strongly recommends against all travel” to North Korea and specifically warns of the risk of arrest. The United States has no diplomatic or consular relations with the North, and the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang provides limited consular services to US citizens detained there. North Korea on Wednesday sentenced an American student, who had admitted to stealing a propaganda banner from a hotel, to 15 years hard labour for subversive activities, state media said. The sentence was handed down on Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old student from the University of Virginia, by North Korea’s Supreme Court, the North’s official KCNA news agency said. KCNA said Warmbier had been arrested on charges of “hostile acts” against the state and had been convicted under an article of the criminal code dealing with subversion. Warmbier was arrested in early January as he was leaving the country with a tour group. He later said he had removed a political banner from the staff-only area of the Pyongyang hotel where the group had stayed. Warmbier said he had been tasked with stealing the banner by a member of the Friendship United Methodist Church in Wyoming, Ohio, who wanted it “as a trophy” and offered him a used car worth $10,000 if he succeeded. http://news.yahoo.com/n-korea-sentences-us-student-15-years-hard-034839123.html

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