North Korea arrests U.S. university student over ‘plot to undermine unity’


North Korea said Friday that it had arrested an American university student for alleged anti-state acts.

Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency reported that authorities are investigating the student, who it says entered the North as a tourist with a plot to undermine a unity among the North Koreans. It said the student has links to the U.S. government.

KCNA identified the person as Warmbier Otto Frederick, a student at Virginia University. North Korea has sometimes listed English-language surnames first.

The announcement came as Washington, Seoul and others are pushing hard to slap North Korea with tougher sanctions for its recent nuclear test. In the past, North Korea often announced the arrests of foreign detainees in times of tension with the outside world in an apparent attempt to wrest concessions.

Earlier this month, CNN reported that North Korea had detained another U.S. citizen on suspicion of spying. It said a man identified as Kim Dong Chul was being held by the Pyongyang government and said authorities had accused him of engaging in spying and stealing state secrets.

The U.S. State Department said it could not confirm the CNN report. It declined to discuss the issue further or confirm whether the U.S. was consulting with Sweden, which handles U.S. consular issues in North Korea because Washington and Pyongyang do not have diplomatic relations.

The United States and North Korea are in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. About 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea.