North Korea says detained U.S. student confesses to crimes against state

SEOUL An American student held in North Korea since early January has confessed to “severe crimes” against the state, North Korean state media said on Monday.

Otto Warmbier, 21, a student at the University of Virginia, was detained before boarding his flight to China over an unspecified incident at his hotel, his tour agency told Reuters in January.

“I committed the crime of taking out a political slogan from the staff-only area of the Yanggakdo International Hotel,” state media quoted Warmbier as telling foreign and domestic media in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, on Monday.

North Korea has a long history of detaining foreigners, and the U.S. and Canadian governments advise against travel there.

Pyongyang has in the past used detained U.S. citizens to extract high-profile visits from the United States, with which it has no formal diplomatic relations.

(Reporting by James Pearson and Jack Kim; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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