North Korea is holding a United States university student for alleged crimes against the state. On Friday, North Korean officials claimed that the student committed a hostile act and wanted to undermine the unity of the nation.
Twenty-one-year-old Otto Frederick Warmbier was at the end of his five-day visit to North Korea when government officials at the airport in Pyongyang detained him. A spokesman for the tour company that organized the trip, Young Pioneer Tours representative Gareth Johnson, said that Warmbier was just about to board a plane to China, when officials prevented him from doing so.
"Committed a Hostile Act Against the State"
North Korea's news agency said that the young man was captured "committing a hostile act against the state." The news agency further said that the act was "tolerated and manipulated by the U.S. government."
The U.S. State Department issued a statement that, as a result of privacy concerns, it could not offer any information about the young man, but the department did confirm that it had received reports that North Korea had detained a U.S. citizen.
According to Johnson, Young Pioneer Tours has been in touch with the U.S. State Department, Warmbier's family and the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang. Sweden serves as diplomatic representative for the United States in North Korea.
Not the Only Detainment in Recent Years
Warmbier is not the only westerner to be detained by North Korea in recent years in seeming violation of international law. Last year, a Canadian pastor born in South Korea was arrested and sentenced to life in prison for the charge of subversion. Also, in early January, a Korean-American was being held on charges of spying. As for the releasing of detainees, North Korea set three Americans free in 2014. Also, a South Korean with a U.S. green card was freed in October 2014 after being held for six months.
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