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US man jailed for spying in N Korea

Do Not UseDo Not Use 29/04/2016
Kim Dong-chul, centre, a US citizen detained in North Korea, is escorted to his trial Friday, 29 April 2016, in Pyongyang, North Korea: Kim was escorted by two North Korean guards to his trial on Friday © AP Kim was escorted by two North Korean guards to his trial on Friday

North Korea has sentenced a US man to 10 years of hard labour for spying.

A North Korean soldier looks at the southern side through field glasses at the border village of Panmunjom, north of Seoul, Wednesday, 13 April 2005: The imprisonment comes amid a period of high tensions on the Korean peninsula © AP The imprisonment comes amid a period of high tensions on the Korean peninsula

Kim Dong-chul, a 62-year-old naturalised US citizen born in South Korea, was arrested last October.

Kim had made an apparent confession in Pyongyang last month in front of reporters, saying he was paid by South Korean intelligence officers.

The US has previously accused North Korea of using its citizens as pawns in a diplomatic game. Pyongyang denies the accusations.

At the time of Kim's arrest, the US State Department had said it would not be commenting on the case as speaking publicly about detained Americans can complicate the process of getting them released.

In March, US student Otto Frederick Warmbier was jailed for 15 years for stealing a propaganda sign and "crimes against the state".

North Korea missile tests: UN 'preparing response'

North Korea has previously said Kim had a USB stick containing military and nuclear secrets on him when he was arrested in the special economic zone of Rason.

Kim, who used to live in Virginia, had said he was introduced to South Korean spies by US intelligence officers.

Forced public confessions by foreign prisoners are common in North Korea.

Kim's imprisonment comes amid a period of high tensions. North Korea has recently conducted a series of missile tests following its fourth nuclear test in January, both of which break UN sanctions.

Pyongyang attempted to launch two mid-range ballistic missiles on Thursday which crashed shortly after their launches, prompting an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

It is believed it will attempt a fifth nuclear test soon.

The recent burst in activity is thought to be a ramp-up to a rare party congress due to be held on 6 May, where leader Kim Jong-un is expected to consolidate power.

Foreigners detained in North Korea

Other recent cases include:

Otto Frederick Warmbier, a US student who was sentenced to 15 years of hard labour in March 2016 for trying to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel and "crimes against the state".

Hyeon Soo Lim, a Canadian Christian pastor of South Korean origin, was sentenced to a life term of hard labour in December, also for "crimes against the state".

Sandra Suh, an American aid worker, was arrested then expelled in April 2015, accused of gathering and producing anti-North propaganda.

Matthew Todd Miller was sentenced to six years' hard labour in September 2014 for what North Korean state media described as "hostile acts", but was released in November the same year.

Kenneth Bae was arrested in November 2012 and accused of using his tourism business to form groups to overthrow the government. Sentenced to 15 years' hard labour in May 2013 but was released along with Mr Miller.

Jeffrey Fowle, held for five months and charged with "anti-state" crimes, was released in October 2014.

Korean War veteran Merrill Newman, held in October 2013 on charges of "hostile acts", was released in December the same year.

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