North Korea’s Supreme Court today sentenced a 24-year-old American man to six years of hard labor for entering the country illegally and trying to commit espionage.
At a trial that lasted about 90 minutes, the court said Matthew Miller, of Bakersfield, California, tore up his tourist visa at Pyongyang’s airport upon arrival on April 10 and admitted to having the “wild ambition” of experiencing prison life so that he could secretly investigate North Korea’s human rights situation.
Miller, who waived the right to a lawyer, was handcuffed and led from the courtroom after his sentencing. The court ruled that it would not hear any appeals to its decision.
Earlier, it had been believed that Miller had sought asylum when he entered North Korea. During the trial, however, the prosecution argued that it was a ruse and that Miller also falsely claimed to have secret information about the U.S. military in South Korea on his iPad and iPod.
Miller is one of three Americans now being held in North Korea.
A trial is expected soon for Jeffrey Fowle, who entered the North as a tourist but was arrested in May for leaving a Bible at a provincial club. The third American, Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae, is serving out a 15-year sentence for alleged “hostile acts.”
All three have appealed to the U.S. government to send a senior statesman to Pyongyang to intervene on their behalf.
Fowle, a 56-year-old equipment operator for the city of Moraine, Ohio, said his wife, a hairstylist from Russia, made a written appeal on his behalf to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He said the Russian government responded that it was watching the situation.