ICC NOTE: It is no surprise the North Korean regime has sentenced American student Otto Warmbier to 15 years hard labor for his alleged “hostile acts” against the state. It is a common theme for North Korea to arrest American and other foreign visitors, charge them with subverting the state in some manner, and sentencing them to prison in the hope of receiving aid and/or monetary compensation for their release. As for his connection to the church in Ohio, those accusations were made by a North Korean official which in itself cannot be taken as truth. According to the minister of Friendship United Methodist Church he has never seen the student or his family attend his church. It is possible North Korea is attempting to create a pattern of Christians acting against the state as previous and current known prisoners are either pastors or missionaries such as Pastor Hyeon-Soo Lim of Toronto, Canada.
3/16/2016 North Korea (Asia News) – North Korea’s Supreme People’s Court has sentenced a US citizen to 15 years hard labor. The judges recognized Otto Warmbier – a 21 year old student from the University of Virginia – guilty of “hostile acts” against the state and “theft of material of national propaganda”. The North’s media had announced his arrest on January 22: Warmbier was stopped because “under the guise of being a tourist, he was conducting criminal activities against the State, with the tacit connivance of the US government and under its manipulation”.
The student has admitted his “guilt” during a press conference broadcast live on national TV. He called the incident “the worst mistake of my life” and begged for mercy “for my crimes.” He told of having removed a political banner for a member of the Friendship United Methodist Church, who wanted it “as a trophy”.
The friend in question is a member of Friendship United Methodist Church in Wyoming (Ohio): the mother of a friend of Warmbier’s had promised him a used car worth ,000 if he succeeded and a payment of 0,000 to his family if he was detained, according to the North’s media.
There are three American citizens in prisons of Pyongyang, but lately the regime has used arrests and convictions to get money or humanitarian aid from Washington in exchange for releases.
The sentence comes at the height of tensions over major joint military exercises between Seoul and Washington, strongly opposed by Pyongyang, and after heavy sanctions from the UN Security Council launched in response to the fourth nuclear test on 6 January and the launch of rocket / satellite on 7 February.