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North Korea Has Detained an American College Student for “Committing a Hostile Act”

A University of Virginia student has been detained in North Korea since early January 2016. Otto Frederick Warmbier, a 21-year old visiting North Korea as part of a New Year tour, was arrested and has since been investigated for “perpetrating a hostile act” against the government there, according to authorities.

Warmbier was detained on Jan. 2 in the Pyongyang airport before he was to fly back to China. His detainment wasn’t made public until Friday, January 22nd 2016. The state-run Korean Central News Agency said that he’s being investigated for “perpetrating a hostile act against the DPRK after entering it under the guise of tourist for the purpose of bringing down the foundation of its single-minded unity at the tacit connivance of the U.S. government and under its manipulation.”

Young Pioneer Tours, the group that took Warmbier into the country, confirmed his detainment in a statement, but didn’t say why he was detained. The Swedish embassy in North Korea is working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on behalf of the United States, since the U.S. and North Korea do not have a diplomatic relationship.

“The welfare of U.S. citizens is one of the Department’s highest priorities,” State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner told the Washington Post. “We have no further information to share due to privacy considerations.”

According to the University of Virginia’s student newspaper, Warmbier is a third-year commerce student, a member of the Theta Chi fraternity, and part of the Echols Scholars honors program.

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