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N. Korea: American sentenced to 8 years

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • N. Korea sentences American to 8 years of hard labor, fines him 70 million N. Korean won
  • Aijalon Mahli Gomes detained January 25 after trespassing into North Korea from China
  • State media referred to crossing as a "hostile act committed against the Korean nation"
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(CNN) -- An American man detained in North Korea for illegally entering the country was sentenced to eight years of hard labor, North Korea's state-run news agency reported Wednesday.

Aijalon Mahli Gomes, 30, was sentenced in Central Court on Tuesday, according to Korean Central News Agency. He must also pay a fine of 70 million North Korean won, the North Korean agency said.

According to on-line currency conversion sites, 70 million North Korean won is equivalent to approximately US$489,000.

KCNA had reported in January that an American was detained January 25 after trespassing into North Korea from China.

On Wednesday, KCNA referred to the border-crossing as a "hostile act committed against the Korean nation."

Gomes "admitted all the facts which had been put under accusation," KCNA reported.

The U.S. State Department earlier confirmed that an American was being held in North Korea, but did not release his name.

Washington does not have diplomatic relations with Pyongyang, and its interests there are represented by Sweden.

Representatives from the Swedish embassy were allowed to witness Gomes' trial, KCNA reported.