April 07, 2010 20:21
North Korea says it has sentenced an American man to eight years of hard labor for illegally entering the country and what it calls hostile acts.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency says the defendant, Aijalon Mahli Gomes, acknowledged wrongdoing during a court appearance. Gomes is from Boston, in the eastern U.S. state of Massachusetts.
The United States does not have relations with North Korea, so Swedish diplomats were present in the courtroom on Washington's behalf.
The U.S. State Department urged North Korea last month to free Gomes. A spokesman said Washington is concerned about the lack of transparency in the North Korean judicial system.
North Korea is believed to be holding one other U.S. citizen who entered the country in January from China. It freed another American in February after two months in detention.
And in a case that received worldwide attention, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il pardoned two American journalists who were sentenced to 12 years hard labor last June for illegally crossing into the country. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton negotiated their freedom.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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