N. Korea blames convicted U.S. man for propaganda activities

A spokesman for North Korea's Supreme Court said Thursday a Korean American man sentenced to 15 years of hard labor last week was engaged in a variety of propaganda activities in China to topple the Pyongyang government and that he was denied counsel in his trial held behind closed doors.

According to the official Korean Central News Agency, the court sentenced Pae Jun Ho, known as Kenneth Bae in the United States, to 15 years of hard labor because he confessed to his crimes, though they are punishable by death or life imprisonment for attempting to subvert the state.

He was arrested for bringing with him anti-North Korean literature on Nov. 3 while entering Ranson City, KCNA said. The trial was held April 30 at his request and because he refused pleading, "the court did not allow the presence of a counsel" in accordance with the country's Criminal Procedure Law, according to the agency.

"In the course of hearing, Pae admitted all his crimes," KCNA said, quoting a reply given by the court spokesman to address the U.S. assertion about "alleged unreasonable legal action" taken against the U.S. citizen and claims that he was not tried in a transparent manner.

Pae set up "plot-breeding bases in difference places of China" to topple the North Korean government from 2006 to October 2012, KCNA said. He also encouraged North Koreans overseas and foreigners to "perpetrate hostile acts" to bring down the Pyongyang government, while "conducting a malignant smear campaign against it," it said.