April 6th, 2010
09:26 PM ET

American detained in North Korea sentenced

An American detained in North Korea for illegally entering the country was sentenced to eight years of hard labor, North Korea's state-run news agency reported Wednesday.

Aijalon Mahli Gomes, 30, was sentenced in court Tuesday, according to Korea Central News Agency.

The U.S. State Department has confirmed that an American is being held in the country, but has not released his name.

KCNA reported in January that an American had been detained January 25 for trespassing into North Korea from China.

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Filed under: North Korea • World
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Alvin A Rivers Sr.

    This treatment of Americans over sees has got to stop, where dose North Korea gets the nerve to put an American in prison for eight years. for an incursion into North Korea. What about all these
    Illegal North Koreas, I see every day here in New York. What is going on we need to protect Americans, and American values, God Blass Americans.

    Alvin A Rivers Sr.

    April 6, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Taylor A

    I believe they are South Koreans you see every day in New York, not North Koreans.

    April 6, 2010 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Debelle

    Well, Mr.Rivers, everybody knows that no one can cross North Korea borders without a visa. It is not the first time, right? When will people learn to respect that? And if New York has illegal North Koreans, US government has to take care of that. It doesnt give anyone the right to go into any country without legal permission.

    April 6, 2010 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. John Costo

    Yes, Alvin, God Blass (sic) America, indeed. BTW, just curious...how do you know by looking at them which North Koreas (sic) walking on the streets of New York are illegal? For that matter, how can you tell if they are North Koreas or South Koreas? Special glasses? To answer your question, it's called sovereignty. Every country is free to set their own rules. And those in that country are subject to those rules. If you don't like it, stay home in the good ole US of A. God Blass us, everyone.

    April 6, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kara

    Sorry Alvin but God BLASS Americans?

    April 6, 2010 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Henry Lam

    Really? Illegal NORTH Koreans you see everyday in New York? Really?

    April 6, 2010 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Frank L.

    You see illegal NORTH Koreans??? Heck, if I saw one I'd interview them for hours asking them what it's like living there. North Korea is a closed state. They don't allow people in, but they don't let people OUT either.

    This treatment of Americans isn't really exclusive to Americans. NK would probably do the same to all trespassers unless they were of Chinese nationality. While I am severely against their policies, I do respect their right to protect their country against illegal aliens however they see fit.

    Also, God bless* America.

    April 6, 2010 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Not smart

    This guy knew exactly what could happen to him if he got caught and he did. It's so difficult to enter North Korea that you cannot simply get into this country by mistake. Remember, North Korea is a sovereign nation, just because we don't agree with them doesn't mean we don't have to abide by their laws in their country. Just entering their country illegally is basically the equivalent of spying if you consider the current situation.

    April 6, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. K. Pyle

    I disagree, whatever we think of places like N Korea, we need to respect their laws just as we expect visitors to expect ours. If a foreigner comes to the USA and breaks a law he would be duly punished and all Americans would expect him to be. If someone made the choice to illegally cross into N Korea from China – whatever his reasons, he needs to do so with the knowledge that if he gets caught he will be punished as the law requires. Its pretty simple logic. Just because America does things one way does not necessarily mean its the "right" way, and how arrogant must we be to think that it is? American values are just that. American. When we travel to other places in the world they have their own set of values that they belive in just as much as we do, we need to be respectful of that also.

    April 6, 2010 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Reid

    How ironic. What if the US detained illegal immigrants this way, rather than send them home. Make them work. Haha

    April 6, 2010 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. R

    I agree with you Allen. North Korea loves to crave the "extra" attention at the moment. Pity.

    April 7, 2010 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
  12. Joseph P.

    Here's a thought: don't go near the North Korean border. And regarding the "illegal" Koreans in the US, they were running away from oppression, not toward it.

    April 7, 2010 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
  13. steve worthen

    While I agree that 8 years is a harsh sentence, i disagree with the impose american veiws or laws, address that later in this posting. That is a problem I have seen over and over in my travels, americans beleiving that they are above or not subject to a country's laws. Just as we expect visitors to the US to abide by US law the same applies when we visit other countries. Far as illegals in the US, it is not North Korea fault or any other countries fault they are in the US. We let them in, we tolerate them being here, but most of all we lack the will and backbone to solve the problem through an aggressive policy and clean-up operations.
    Now far as america inposing laws, veiws and values, get really. Look at every place we try to inpose ourselves (Vietiam, Marco in Philippines, Shah in Iran, Baby Doc in Haiti, Hussain in Iraq - yes we was his largest arms/military supplier in the 1980's, Iraq and Afghanistan today), it does not work!! We need to provide the technical knowlegde but within the values and cultural outlines of the country we are trying to help. Change must come from within to be longlasting

    April 7, 2010 at 1:37 am | Report abuse |
    • darise

      I agree we need to show then the Western society and allow them to change for them self's however if a country is ruled by a dictatorship it's kind of hard for any change with one that has Nuclear capabilities. I am just saying occupying the country is not right yet keeping millions oppressed is not correct either. And that is where the UN should come to play however lets face it that place is a JOKE! And a bad one at that. We always bail out nations that are in trouble even ones that we do not support yet we have to stand by all the time? Fine if we are no involved lets be completely not involved PULL ALL FUNDING and trade!

      August 24, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Alan Smithee

    Spoken like a man who sues charity organizations. Bravo, Mr. Rivers. The police have been notified. I hope your appeal goes better this time.

    April 7, 2010 at 2:42 am | Report abuse |
  15. Emmanuel F

    The guy is either a bold journalist who knew what he was doing or the stupidest man on earth... Everybody knows you don't enter or leave North Korea like that...
    I'm not saying he deserves that but he took the risk.

    April 7, 2010 at 5:19 am | Report abuse |
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