Kenneth Bae, right, and Bobby Lee, pose together as freshmen students at the University of Oregon in 1988. Bae, detained for nearly six months in North Korea, has been sentenced to 15 years of "compulsory labor" for unspecified crimes against the state.
(Photo: AP file)
WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. is calling for North Korea to grant an amnesty for the immediate release of a Korean-American sentenced to 15 years hard labor for "hostile acts" against the state.
The 44-year-old Kenneth Bae is at least the sixth American detained in North Korea since 2009. The others eventually were deported or released without serving out their terms, some after trips to Pyongyang by prominent Americans, including former presidents.
Analysts say Bae's sentencing could be an effort by Pyongyang to win diplomatic concessions in the ongoing standoff over its nuclear program.
State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said Thursday the U.S. was still seeking to learn the facts of the case. He said the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, which handles consular matters there for the U.S., did not attend Tuesday's trial.