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North Korea Arrests University of Virginia Student for 'Hostile' Act

North Korea says it has arrested an American university student for alleged anti-state acts.
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North Korea has arrested a University of Virginia student over an alleged "hostile" act, state media reported Friday.

Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency said that authorities detained an American, who it identified as Otto Frederick Warmbier.

China-based tourism agency Young Pioneer Tours confirmed in a statement that Warmbier was a client and that his family had been informed.

"We are in contact with the Swedish Embassy, who act as the protecting interest for U.S citizens, who are working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to address the case," it said.

"We are also assisting the U.S Department of State closely with regards to the situation. In the meantime we would appreciate Otto’s and his family’s privacy being respected and we hope his release can be secured as soon as possible."

The State Department said it was "aware of media reports" about Warmbier's arrest. However, it had "no further information to share due to privacy considerations," spokesman Mark Toner said.

"The University of Virginia has been in touch with Otto Warmbier’s family and will have no additional comment at this time," the college said in a statement Friday.

KCNA said Warmbier was under investigation for "perpetrating a hostile act against the DPRK after entering it under the guise of tourist for the purpose of bringing down the foundation of its single-minded unity at the tacit connivance of the U.S. government and under its manipulation."

In October, North Korea released a New York University student holding a U.S. green card six months after capturing him crossing into the country from China.

Joo Won-moon, 21, a South Korean national, was freed days before Pyongyang celebrated the 70th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party.

Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae was freed in 2014 after serving two years of a hard labor sentence.

However, in December it reportedly sentenced a South Korea-born Canadian pastor to hard labor for life for subversion. Hyeon Soo Lim, the head pastor at a Toronto church that is one of Canada's largest, had been held in North Korea since February.

The United States and North Korea are still officially at 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.