North Korea has sentenced American student Otto Frederick Warmbier to 15 years hard labor for crimes against the state, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported Wednesday.
The sentence was handed down by the country’s Supreme Court, Xinhua said in one-line dispatch datelined Pyongyang.
In an emotional press conference last month, the 21-year old student at the University of Virginia admitted to attempting to steal a banner with a political slogan from his hotel in the North Korean capital. It is not known whether Warmbier made the admission under duress.
“I committed the crime of taking down a political slogan from the staff holding area of the Yanggakdo International Hotel,” he said, as he begged for forgiveness.
The North Korean government alleges Warmbier was encouraged to commit the “hostile act” by a purported member of an Ohio church, a secretive university organization and even the CIA.
Warmbier was arrested on January 2, 2016, as he was about to board a plane to leave the country.