TOKYO — North Korea has sentenced Matthew Miller to six years of hard labor for committing “hostile acts,” after the American reportedly ripped up his tourist visa upon arrival at the Pyongyang airport in April.

During a show trial that lasted 90 minutes, the Supreme Court found that Miller – who had no legal representation – had committed “acts hostile to the DPRK while entering . . . under the guise of a tourist,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported, using the official abbreviation for North Korea.

Analysts say that Pyongyang is using Miller and two other men as bargaining chips in its dispute with Washington over its nuclear program – but that the U. S. is preoccupied with the Middle East.

KCNA photos showed Miller, looking pale and wearing a black turtleneck despite it being summer, in a courtroom decorated with a North Korean flag.

Although the setup resembled a courtroom in democratic countries, very little is known about North Korea’s justice system, except that it is neither independent nor transparent.

The three regime-appointed judges said they would not consider any appeals, according to reports from Pyongyang.

North Korea has three Americans in custody: Miller; Jeffrey Fowle, a 56-year-old from Ohio who was arrested in May after leaving a Bible in a seamen’s club in Chongjin and who is awaiting trial; and Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary who is two years into a 15-year hard-labor sentence for “hostile acts to bring down the government.”

In North Korea, where the only religion is devotion to the ruling Kim family, proselytizing is considered treasonous and carries heavy penalties, and ethnic Koreans face the harshest treatment.

Miller and Fowle are being held separately in hotel rooms in Pyongyang while North Korea has created what amounts to a one-man prison camp for Bae, who is working six days a week in the fields.

Kim Jong Un’s regime, which is trying to lure tourists even as it detains the three men, apparently wants to cut a deal with the United States.

It delivered the three Americans to visiting news organizations for highly orchestrated interviews, during which each of the men called on Washington to send an envoy to secure their release.

Other Americans detained in North Korea have been released after visits by former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

The State Department has offered to send Robert King, its point man on North Korean human rights, to Pyongyang, but the regime apparently wants someone with a higher profile.

Even for North Korea, the Miller case is unusual.

During Sunday’s trial, Miller said he tore up his visa because he had the “wild ambition” of experiencing prison life in North Korea so he could write about human rights, reported the Associated Press.


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