US student detained in North Korea confesses to theft

Seoul, Feb 29 (IANS) An American student detained in North Korea confessed at a press conference in Pyongyang on Monday that he tried to steal a political banner from the hotel he was staying in.

Otto Frederick Warmbier, a student at the University of Virginia, acknowledged, in his first public appearance since his arrest, that he tried to steal a banner, with a political slogan, from an area reserved for staff at the Yanggakdo International Hotel, local North Korean media sai.

The 21-year-old student, whose confession could have been forced by North Korean authorities, admitted to having been encouraged by a Protestant church in Ohio in the US, and also said the US government was involved, EFE news reported.

On January 22, North Korea announced that the student had been arrested for committing “hostile acts” against the regime but did not follow it up with details.

The student is one of the three Westerners, who are being detained in North Korea for alleged acts against the Kim Jong-un regime.

The other two are Hyeon Soo Lim, a Korean-Canadian pastor sentenced to life in prison, and South Korean-American citizen Kim Dong Chul.

In October, Pyongyang released a New York University student, who had been detained for six months for entering the country illegally.

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