North Korea dismisses speculation American prisoner will be bargaining chip
Though in the past North Korea has used detained Americans to bargain with the United States, North Korean media said the government had no such intentions for American Kenneth Bae, sentenced to hard labor in North Korea for 15 years.
"Some media of the U.S. said that the DPRK tried to use Bae's case as a political bargaining chip. This is ridiculous and wrong guess," the KCNA news agency reported, citing a Foreign Ministry spokesman.
DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.
Bae, 44, was born in South Korea but is a naturalized U.S. citizen. His sentencing comes after two months of sabre-rattling that saw North Korea threaten the United States and South Korea with nuclear war.
Human rights activists in South Korea say Bae may have been arrested for taking pictures of starving children.
A U.S. official said last week Washington was not looking for an envoy to try to secure Bae's release.
The North's ministry spokesman said the Bae case showed the United States had not changed its "hostile" policy.
"As long as the U.S. hostile policy goes on, Americans' illegal acts should be countered with strict legal sanctions. This is a conclusion drawn by the DPRK," the KCNA news agency reported.