North Korea arrests US student because of ‘hostile act’

North Korea arrests US student for committing 'hostile act' against country, says North's official KCNA news agency

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

North Korea has arrested a US university student with the accusation of committing a "hostile act" and wanting to "destroy the country's unity''.

The North's official KCNA news agency announced on Friday that the student, Otto Frederick Warmbier, came to North Korea as a tourist and "was caught committing a hostile act against the state", which it said was "tolerated and manipulated by the US government".

China-based tour agency Young Pioneer Tours confirmed the incident and said that Warmbier, a 21-year-old student from the University of Virginia, was detained while he was on one of its North Korea tours on January 2.

One of the officials from the US embassy in the South Korean capital Seoul said they were aware of the reported arrest. The US State Department in Washington has not released any comment.

The tour agency indicated it was in contact with Warmbier's family and US authorities.

"We are in touch with Otto's family, the US State Department and the Embassy of Sweden in Pyongyang and doing all we can to secure his release," the agency said in a statement.

The Swedish Embassy also represents US interests in North Korea.

Warmbier was arrested four days before North Korea's fourth nuclear test.

In 2014, Pyongyang freed three detained Americans. Last October, North Korea also released a South Korean citizen with a US green card after detaining him for six months.

TRTWorld and agencies