North Korea arrests U.S. university student on the claims the student participated in a “hostile act” in a Pyongyang Hotel on behalf of Washington to “undermine national unity” as reported by the North Korean news agency.
The university student was taken into custody Friday before he could board his flight out of the country to China as a result of the unspecified incident that occurred at his hotel, the Yanggakdo International Hotel, where he had been staying for the duration of his trip, according to the travel agency, Young Pioneer Tours.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) alleges 21-year-old, Otto Warmbier Frederick, an undergraduate student studying commerce at the University of Virginia, came into the country disguised as a tourist under the direction of the government in Washington with a plan to “destroy North Korean Unity with the tacit connivance of the US government.”
Charlotte Guttridge, a tour leader with the North Korean travel agency was witness to Frederick’s arrest, explaining the student was alone and not with tourists from the group when the incident occurred, “What happened, happened at the hotel and my belief is that Otto kept it to himself out of hope it might go unnoticed,” she said.
The agency asserts Frederick behaved within the normal parameters of the other tourists, with 10 of them being American citizens, taking an interest in visiting areas in the region. He took pictures and enjoyed the sites, just as everyone else did. “We had no indication that anything untoward had happened until the airport,” Guttridge stated.
Once the group arrived at the airport and began to go through immigration, two airport officials took Frederick into an immigration room. Guttridge was instructed he was taken to a “hospital.”
Upon learning of his detention, the founder of the tour company, Gareth Johnson, stayed behind and stated the company contacted his family, the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, and U.S. officials.
The U.S. State Department released a statement stating that it was “aware of reports that a U.S. citizen had been detained in North Korea but gave no further details, citing privacy concerns.” The department is working with the Swedish Embassy, said Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner.
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