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North Korea detains US citizen for ‘hostile act’

22 January 2016 13:31



North Korea says it has detained a US university student who it said committed “a hostile act” against Pyongyang.

According to North Korea’s KCNA news agency, Otto Frederick Warmbier, a student from the University of Virginia, entered North Korea as a tourist and “was caught committing a hostile act against the state.”

The American national had sought to target unity among the Korean people with “the tacit connivance of the US government and under its manipulation,” it said.

Authorities in Pyongyang are now investigating the case of the 21-year-old American student.

The United States has no diplomatic or consular relations with North Korea. The Swedish Embassy represents US interests in Pyongyang and provides limited consular services to US citizens there.

An official at the US Embassy in neighboring South Korea said the diplomatic mission was aware of the reported arrest. The US State Department in Washington is yet to comment.

Several Americans have been held in North Korea in recent years.

In October last year, North Korea freed a South Korean national with a US green card after holding him for six months. Also in 2014, Pyongyang released three detained Americans.

The developments come as tensions are currently running high on the Korean peninsula. The US, and with allies Japan and South Korea have led calls for a tough UN Security Council resolution in the wake of a January 6 nuclear test by North Korea.

North Korea accuses the US of plotting with regional allies to topple its government. Pyongyang says it will not relinquish its nuclear deterrence unless the US ends its hostile policy toward it and dissolves the US-led UN command in the region.

Thousands of US troops are stationed in South Korea and Japan.

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