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North Korea: Verdict soon on U.S. citizen

North Korea said it will hand down a verdict on a detained American citizen accused of crimes against the state, the communist country's official Korean Central News Agency reported .

Pae Jun Ho, who entered North Korea's Rason City on Nov. 3 as a tourist, will face judgment in the Supreme Court after admitting to the charges, KCNA said, without citing a source. Pae was involved with a Protestant Christian religious movement, according to a Dec. 11 CNN report that identified him as Kenneth Bae.

The State Department is aware of the reports a U.S. citizen will face trial in North Korea, department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in an email. The State Department will work closely with representatives of the Embassy of Sweden in Pyongyang, which visited Pae last week. A delegation that included former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson failed in January to secure Pae's release.

"In the process of investigation, he admitted that he committed crimes aimed to topple the DPRK with hostility toward it," the KCNA report said, referring to the country's official name Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The Korean peninsula has been on edge since February, when Kim Jong Un's regime detonated an atomic bomb in defiance of United Nations sanctions and then threatened pre-emptive nuclear strikes against its enemies. The Obama administration has rejected claims North Korea possesses the ability to launch nuclear-armed ballistic missiles.

Several U.S. citizens have been detained in recent years in North Korea. All were released after negotiations. Eddie Jun, a Korean-American missionary, was released in 2011 after being detained for half a year for proselytizing, according to The Associated Press. In February 2010, an American missionary, Robert Park, was released after about two months.

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