North Korean state-run news agency accuses professor of "hostile acts"
Tony Kim, also known as Kim Sang Duk, is third American detained in North since 2015
North Korea has accused an American detained since April of attempting to overthrow the government.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday that Tony Kim – also known as Kim Sang Duk – was detained for “hostile acts” toward the Pyongyang regime.
Kim was seized on the morning of April 22 at Pyongyang International Airport as he attempted to leave the country following a stint as a professor of accounting at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, KCNA said.
Americans detained in North Korea
The report added Kim “was intercepted for committing criminal acts of hostility aimed to overturn the (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) not only in the past but also during his last stay before interception.”
He is being held while an investigation is underway, KCNA said.
Kim is the third American North Korea has detained since 2015.
University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in 2016 on charges of committing a “hostile act” against the state after he reportedly removed a political banner from a hotel. Businessman Kim Dong Chul, arrested a year earlier, is serving 10 years in prison on espionage charges.
This week, Warmbier’s parents said they hoped President Donald Trump would be able to ensure their son’s release after he suggested he would be willing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Gary Locke, a former US ambassador to China, told CNN in April that North Korea was detaining Americans to get as many “bargaining chips” as possible for future negotiations as tensions between Washington and Pyongyang have escalated in recent months.
“Our hope is that he’s coming home,” the detained college student’s mother, Cindy Warmbier, said this week. “There seems to be a tension now placed on things that were ignored before, so I can’t imagine this isn’t good for our country, but more importantly, good for Otto.
“He’s a 22-year-old college student who has never been in trouble. This seems to be bigger than anything he was accused of doing.”
CNN’s Chieu Luu and Joshua Berlinger contributed to this report.