North Korea arrests American student for 'hostile act'

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of -- North Korea announced Friday the arrest of a U.S. university student for what it called a "hostile act" orchestrated by the American government to undermine the authoritarian nation.

See Full Article

In language that mirrors past North Korean claims of outside conspiracies, Pyongyang's state media said the University of Virginia student entered the country under the guise of a tourist and plotted to destroy North Korean unity with "the tacit connivance of the U.S. government and under its manipulation."

The North's official Korean Central News Agency said in a short report that the student, whom it identified as Warmbier Otto Frederick, was "arrested while perpetrating a hostile act," but didn't say when he was detained or explain the nature of the act. North Korea has sometimes listed English-language surnames first, in the Korean style. The University of Virginia's online student directory lists someone named Otto Frederick Warmbier as an undergraduate commerce student.

A China-based tour company specializing in travel to North Korea, Young Pioneer Tours, confirmed that one of its customers, identified only as "Otto," had been detained in Pyongyang, the North's capital, but provided no other details. Social media accounts for Warmbier show interests in finance, travel and rap music; he was on the University of Virginia's dean's list and attended high school in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area.

The U.S. State Department said in a statement that it was "aware of media reports that a U.S. citizen was detained in North Korea," but had "no further information to share due to privacy considerations."

North Korea's announcement comes amid a diplomatic push by Washington, Seoul and their allies to slap Pyongyang with tough sanctions for its recent nuclear test. In the past, North Korea has occasionally announced the arrests of foreign detainees in times of tension with the outside world in an apparent attempt to wrest concessions or diplomatic manoeuvring room.

North Korea also regularly accuses Washington and Seoul of sending "spies" to overthrow its government to enable the U.S.-backed South Korean government to control the entire Korean Peninsula. Some foreigners previously arrested have read statements of guilt that they later said were coerced.

A few thousand Westerners are thought to visit North Korea each year, and Pyongyang is pushing for more tourists as a way to help its dismal economy. The U.S. State Department has warned against travel to the North, however, and visitors, especially those from America, who break the country's sometimes murky rules risk detention, arrest and possible jail sentences, although most have eventually been released.

Earlier this month, CNN reported that North Korea had detained another U.S. citizen on suspicion of spying. It said a man identified as Kim Dong Chul was being held by the North and said authorities had accused him of spying and stealing state secrets. North Korea has yet to comment on the report.

The U.S. State Department has said it could not confirm the CNN report. It declined to discuss the issue further or confirm whether the U.S. was consulting with Sweden, which handles U.S. consular issues in North Korea because Washington and Pyongyang do not have diplomatic relations.

North Korea has previously released or deported U.S. detainees after high-profile Americans visited the country. In late 2014, for instance, North Korea released two Americans after a secret mission to the North by James Clapper, the top U.S. intelligence official. Critics say such trips have provided diplomatic credibility to the North.

The Korean Peninsula remains in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. About 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea.

North Korea is holding at least three South Koreans and one Canadian.

Last month, North Korea's Supreme Court sentenced a Canadian pastor to life in prison with hard labour for what it called crimes against the state. The offences he was charged with included harming the dignity of the North's leadership and trying to use religion to destroy the North Korean system, according to the North's state media.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Court ruling on funding for Catholic schools can't stand, Wall says

    Canada News CTV News
    REGINA - Saskatchewan will look at all the options after a court ruling said the province can't provide Catholic schools funding for students who aren't Catholic, says Premier Brad Wall. "This simply cannot stand," Wall said Monday. Source
  • Armed robbers use explosives to break into Paraguay vault, escape by boat

    World News CTV News
    ASUNCION, Paraguay -- Dozens of attackers armed with assault rifles used explosives to blast open the vault of an armoured car company early Monday and apparently escaped by boat into Brazil with a haul of cash, authorities said. Source
  • Aviation officer gives his version of United flight removal

    World News CTV News
    CHICAGO - The Chicago aviation police officer who pulled a man off a United Airlines flight describes the man as physically and verbally combative during the incident. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Associated Press, the aviation department released the officer's version of the April 9 incident for the first time and named the officer for the first time. Source
  • Chinese leader calls for restraint over North Korea

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON - As the world braces for a possible North Korean nuclear test, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday urged restraint in a call to U.S. President Donald Trump. American's UN envoy warned of a strike if Pyongyang attacks a U.S. Source
  • Venezuelans stage sit-in on roads to protest government

    World News CTV News
    CARACAS, Venezuela -- Protesters sprawled in lawn chairs, worked on math homework and played cards on main roads around Venezuela's cities Monday, joining in sit-ins to disrupt traffic as the latest slap at the socialist government. Source
  • Kinder surprise: Woman gets 3 years for trafficking drugs in chocolate eggs

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    YORKTON, SASK. - A guard who smuggled drugs hidden in chocolate eggs into an RCMP detachment in Saskatchewan has been sentenced to three years in prison. Bonny Maddaford, who is 45, pleaded guilty last month to trafficking cocaine, trafficking marijuana and breach of trust. Source
  • Kitchener couple face U.S. jail for fentanyl smuggling

    World News Toronto Sun
    Two people a day in Ontario end up toe-tagged in the morgue courtesy of killer opiate fentanyl. The opioid-based pain killer is roughly 100 times stronger than morphine. It can be fatal in even a tiny dose. Source
  • Haiti PM's motorcade hits 2, killing 1, near flooded zone

    World News CTV News
    PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- A motorcade carrying Haiti's prime minister struck two teenage boys, killing one, as officials drove into the country's third largest city on Monday to see flood damage left by heavy rains. Serge Daniel, a government delegate who was travelling in Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant's motorcade, said one of the vehicles accidentally struck two adolescents who darted into the road on a motorbike. Source
  • U.S. slams Syria with 271 sanctions [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    The United States has issued 271 sanctions in response to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons. It’s one of the largest sanction actions in U.S. history. The Trump administration said Monday that it issued sanctions against 271 employees of Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center, the Syrian government agency responsible for developing and producing non-conventional weapons. Source
  • Tennessee teacher planned to take teenaged student to Mexico

    World News CTV News
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A Tennessee teacher charged with kidnapping a 15-year-old student and driving her to California had planned to take the girl to Mexico and took a boat from San Diego on a test run, according to federal court documents filed Monday. Source