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(LEAD) N. Korea gives Korean-American 10 years' hard labor for 'spying'

All News 13:11 April 29, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with details at bottom; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, April 29 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has sentenced a detained Korean-American to 10 years of hard labor for "spying" on the reclusive country, Agence France-Press reported Friday.

Kim Dong-chul was convicted of trying to steal classified military information from the North, the news outlet reported, citing China's Xinhua News Agency.

The 62-year-old was arrested on charges of espionage in October. He pleaded guilty and asked North Korea for leniency in an internationally broadcast press conference in March.

His detainment first became known in a CNN interview broadcast on Jan. 11, soon after North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test.

Prior to his arrest, Kim lived in China near the North Korean border for 15 years and frequently visited the North Korean special economic zone of Rason.

The North's state media KCNA said authorities nabbed him as he was trying to receive a USB drive containing sensitive military information from a source in Rason.

The sentence, handed down by the communist country's Supreme Court, follows a similar one given to an American college student, Otto Warmbier, who was caught trying to steal a propaganda banner from a Pyongyang hotel. Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor last month.

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