South Korea's Supreme Court has upheld a prison sentence for a former opposition lawmaker arrested for encouraging an armed rebellion in the South should war with North Korea break out.

Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae said Thursday that the court confirmed a 9-year prison sentence for former Unified Progressive Party lawmaker Lee Seok-ki for inciting rebellion and praising the North. Yang said the court also upheld shorter terms for six of Lee's colleagues in their final appeals trial.

South Korea's Constitutional Court in December ordered the breakup of UPP for supporting North Korea and removed Lee and four other lawmakers from parliament. Critics said the move showed the government wants to take away citizens' freedom of expression.

Praising the North is illegal in the South.