On April 7, 2010, a North Korean court sentenced US citizen Aijalon Mahli Gomes to eight years hard labor and a fine equivalent to USD $700,000 for illegal entry into the country and unspecified hostile acts. Gomes had been arrested in January 2010 after illegally crossing the North Korean border with China. North Korea had received criticism for detaining Americans for illegal entry, including activist Robert Park and journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee (who were eventually pardoned and released in August 2009). The impoverished country was accused of detaining the Americans as bargaining chips in ongoing international negotiations over North Korea's nuclear program.
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