Otto Frederick Warmbier
Otto Frederick Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who has been detained in North Korea since early January, attends a new conference in Pyongyang, North Korea, on 29 FebruaryKyodo via Reuters

North Korea has sentenced American student Otto Warmbier to 15 years of hard labour for anti-state activities. Pyongyang had charged him for crimes against the state.

The 21-year-old was found guilty after a one-hour trial in the reclusive country's Supreme Court on 16 March, according to Xinhua. The Virginia University student had reportedly attempted to steal propaganda material from a hotel where he was staying in the country in January 2016.

He had earlier confessed to committing the crime on national television."I committed the crime of taking down a political slogan from the staff holding area of the Yanggakdo International Hotel. I apologize to each and every one of the millions of the Korean people and I beg that you see how I was used and manipulated," he said on 29 February.

"My reward for my crime was so much smaller than the rewards that the Z Society and the Friendship United Methodist Church get from the United States Administration," he added. A church in Ohio had allegedly promised to pay Warmbier a car worth $10,000 (£7,200) if he managed to smuggle a poster out of the isolated country. He was staying at the Yanggakdo International Hotel when he visited the country.

Foreigners, who have been convicted and released after their sentence in North Korea, have often said their "confessions" were extracted under pressure by the Kim Jong-un regime.