| 5.6°C Dublin

North Korea jails American for six years in labour camp

Close

U.S. citizen Matthew Todd Miller

U.S. citizen Matthew Todd Miller

REUTERS

U.S. citizen Matthew Todd Miller

An American who travelled to North Korea and reportedly claimed asylum will serve six years in a labour camp.

North Korea's Supreme Court said Matthew Miller, 24, from Bakersfield, California, had entered the country illegally and tried to commit an act of espionage.

Mr Miller was arrested in April and put on trial yesterday. The court denied him any appeal, but details of the proceedings were not published.

According to the Korea Central News Agency, the official news agency, Mr Miller had behaved "rashly" and ripped up his visa after landing at Pyongyang airport. He allegedly shouted that "he came to North Korea after choosing it as a shelter".

Earlier this month, he appeared in a brief interview with CNN, the television news network, accompanied by North Korean officials. In the interview, he said that he had planned to "violate the law" before arriving in North Korea and had "deliberately" committed his "crime", without specifying what he had done.

Another American already serving a 15-year sentence in a labour camp, Kenneth Bae, a 46-year-old Christian missionary, was also granted an interview with CNN, in which he described his failing health. "I have beengoing back and forth from hospital to the labour camp for the last year and a half," he said, adding that he was working eight hours a day for six days a week at the camp.

Mr Bae is accused by North Korea of trying to evangelise inside North Korea. He said he is suffering from diabetes, back aches and high blood pressure. The US state department has called for Mr Bae to be released on humanitarian grounds.

It is not clear which labour camp Mr Bae is being held in, or where Mr Miller will be sent. However, it is unlikely to be as horrific as the camps holding North Korean political prisoners, where inmates are routinely tortured and killed, according to prisoners who have escaped.

A third American, Jeffrey Fowle, 56, who was arrested in North Korea in May for leaving a Bible, with his contact details written inside, under a bin in the lavatory of a restaurant, is expected to go on trial shortly.

The US has said North Korea is using the three detainees as political bargaining chips. (© Daily Telegraph)

Irish Independent