American Kenneth Bae has been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea for crimes against that government, reports USA Today.
The Korean American from Washington state was arrested back in November while working as a tour guide. Reports from the news media in North Korea say he was found with sensitive pictures and has admitted to his crimes.
Many in the United States believe he is being used as a bargaining chip to pressure the United States into negotiations to ease sanctions against North Korea.
In the past when Americans have been arrested in North Korea, US officials including former president Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter have gone to successfully negotiate their release. One report in the Los Angeles Times quotes South Korean news media reports which speculate that Carter could be sent again, this time to win the release of Bae.
But others quoted by USA Today say there’s no guarantee the US will follow the same playbook they have used in the past.
The sentence of Bae is sure to raise the already high tensions between North Korea and the United States. The communist nation has reportedly moved weapons into position aimed at American territories and military bases.