North Korea court sentences American to six years of hard labor News
North Korea court sentences American to six years of hard labor

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of North Korea [JURIST news archive] on Sunday sentenced an American man to six years of hard labor for committing “hostile acts” against the country. The court convicted 24-year-old California resident Matthew Todd Miller of entering the country on April 10th illegally to commit espionage, a charge that can carry a sentence of five to ten years. The court stated [AP report] that Miller tore up his tourist visa when he arrived at the Pyongyang airport and “admitted to having the ‘wild ambition’ of experiencing prison life” to investigate the alleged human rights violations occurring in the country. At first Miller was thought to have been seeking political asylum in North Korea, but the prosecution argued that this was false and he was actually in the country to commit espionage. After Miller waived his right to an attorney, the trial lasted approximately 90 minutes, and afterwards the judges stated that an appeal would not be permitted.

Miller is one of three Americans currently being held against their will [USA Today report] in North Korea. The two other men are Jeffrey Edward Fowle and Kenneth Bae. Fowle arrived in the country on April 29 and is charged with Christian proselytizing after being accused of leaving a Bible in a nightclub. Bae has been in the country since 2012 and was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for convictions of state subversion. The human rights issues that Miller was said to be investigating are not trivial. In April the chief investigator from the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea appealed [JURIST report] to the UN Security Council to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity. The call to act came as a result of February’s report [JURIST report] in which the Commission detailed North Korea’s human rights violations, which include murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, the enforced disappearance of people and knowingly causing starvation. In March Michael Kirby of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea compared the alleged crimes [JURIST report] of the North Korean regime to those of Nazism, apartheid and the Khmer Rouge.