N. Korea sentences American to 15 years of labor

North Korea's Supreme Court has sentenced a U.S. citizen to 15 years of compulsory labor for "committing hostile acts" against the country, its official media reported Thursday.

The Korean Central News Agency, monitored in Beijing, said the sentence was handed down to Pae Jun Ho, a Korean-American who has been held in North Korea for nearly half a year. He was tried by the court on April 30, it said.

The report said Pae "was arrested while committing hostile acts against the DPRK after entering Rason City as a tourist on Nov. 3 last year."

DPRK is an acronym for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Rason is a special economic zone near the border with China.

According to U.S. media reports, Pae, who is also known as Kenneth Bae, is a tour operator of Korean descent from Washington state, who is in his mid-40s.

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, citing diplomatic sources, reported Wednesday from Washington that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter may soon travel to North Korea to work for the release of the Korean-American man.

During a trip to Pyongyang in early January, a U.S. private delegation including former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Google Inc. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt asked North Korean officials to extend humanitarian treatment to the American detainee, although the group was unable to meet him, much less secure his release.

In the absence of diplomatic ties between Washington and Pyongyang, the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang has been provided basic consular protective services to him.