US urges immediate release of US detainee in N. Korea

WASHINGTON, March 16 (KUNA) — The White House on Wednesday urged the “immediate release” of Otto Warmbier, an American man who received a 15-year prison sentence in North Korea for crimes against the state a day earlier.
“We strongly urge the North Korean government to pardon him and grant him special amnesty and immediate release,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told a press briefing.
Earnest suggested that the allegations for which Warmbier was arrested and imprisoned “would not give rise to arrest or imprisonment in the United States or in just about any other country in the world.” The White House went on to accuse the North Korean government of seeking to “use these US citizens as pawns to pursue a political agenda.” Warmbier was arrested in January 2016 before admitting to have stolen a “banner with a political slogan” from his hotel in Pyongyang.
His arrest by North Korea follows another two American detainees who were both released in late 2014.
Tensions are high between North Korea and the US due to Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions. (end)