N. Korea to Try American for Illegal Entry

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SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea said Monday that it will put an American on trial for illegally entering the country from China.

State-run media identified him as 30-year-old Aijalon Mahli Gomes, of Boston, and said "his crime has been confirmed." The brief dispatch from the Korean Central News Agency did not say when he would stand triimal.

KCNA said Gomes was born in 1979 but provided no further details. North Korea had said in January that an American was in its custody but did not identify him until Monday.

There was no immediate confirmation from the State Department about the man's identity. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said last week that Swedish diplomats in Pyongyang have had access to an American in North Korean custody.

Gomes would be the fourth American detained in communist North Korea on charges of illegal entry in the past year. It was not immediately clear why he crossed into North Korea.

Two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, were arrested a year ago near the Chinese border and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor for illegal entry and engaging in "hostile acts." They were freed in August after former U.S. President Bill Clinton made a high-profile humanitarian visit to Pyongyang to negotiate their release.

On Christmas, American missionary Robert Park strode into North Korea from China on a self-proclaimed mission to draw attention to North Korea's human rights record. He was released last month after more than 40 days in custody.

Monday's announcement comes as regional powers are pushing for North Korea to rejoin international talks on dismantling its nuclear weapons program.

Pyongyang abandoned an aid-for-disarmament pact and pulled out of the negotiations last year to protest criticism of a rocket launch widely decried as a violation of U.N. sanctions.

North Korea's move to test a nuclear bomb weeks later prompted the U.N. Security Council to further tighten sanctions against the impoverished regime.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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Associated Press

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