North Korea sentenced an American to six years of hard labor Sunday for allegedly entering the country illegally and trying to spy on the highly secretive state.
Matthew Miller, 24, of Bakersfield, Calif., has been held since April 10, when he entered North Korea as a tourist with a New Jersey-based tour company.
State news agency KCNA previously reported that Miller had torn up his tourist visa during his trip and said he wanted asylum.
At Sunday's 90-minute trial at the North Korean Supreme Court, the prosecution argued this was a ruse that Miller hoped would enable him to commit espionage against North Korea, the Associated Press reported from Pyongyang.
The court said Miller had admitted to having the "wild ambition" of experiencing prison life in order to carry out a secret investigation of North Korea's human rights situation, AP said. The prosecution alleged that Miller had claimed, falsely, that his iPad and iPod contained secret information about the U.S. military in South Korea.
Miller is the second of three U.S. citizens being detained in North Korea to be tried and jailed. Kenneth Bae, 45, a Korean-American missionary, is serving a 15-year sentence of hard labor in North Korea. Another U.S. tourist, Jeffrey Fowle, 56, a street repairs worker from Miamisburg, Ohio, still awaits trial for leaving a Bible at a seamen's club in May.
After Sunday's verdict, the U.S. State Department urged North Korea to release Miller, as well as Bae and Fowle.
"Now that Mr. Miller has gone through a legal process, we urge DPRK to grant him amnesty and immediate release," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement, using North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Earlier this month, North Korea made all three men available for brief, monitored interviews. Miller told CNN he "prepared to violate the law of DPRK before coming here. And I deliberately committed my crime." Miller asked the U.S. government to secure his release but did not comment on why he tore up his visa.