North Korea said on Saturday a US citizen, jailed in the reclusive state since last year, will face trial for “committing crimes” against the regime, in a move likely to further stoke tensions with the US.
The official Korean Central News Agency said Kenneth Bae will be tried soon on charges including plotting to overthrow the regime, without specifying when the verdict will be handed down.
Bae, who is of Korean ethnicity and referred to as Pae Jun Ho, was detained last November after entering North Korea’s Rason special economic zone from China as part of a small tourist group. He will soon go before the country’s supreme court to “face judgement”, KCNA reported.
“The preliminary inquiry into crimes committed by American citizen Pae Jun-Ho closed,” the KCNA said in a report on Saturday.
“In the process of investigation he admitted that he committed crimes aimed to topple the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with hostility toward it,” Pyongyang said in a statement. “His crimes were proved by evidence”.
Although it is not clear yet what sort of punishment he might face, North Korean law provides for life imprisonment or the death penalty for similar offences, reports BBC.
His case comes as the North’s relations with the US and South Korea have deteriorated dramatically over the past few months after Pyongyang threatened a nuclear strike against its enemies, ratcheting up tensions on the Korean peninsula.