North Korea has executed Jang Song Thaek, the uncle of leader Kim Jong Un, who until recently was seen as one of Kim's chief advisers.
The official Korean Central News Agency says Jang was put to death Thursday after a facing a special military tribunal.
The report called him "a traitor to the nation for all ages who perpetrated anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts in a bid to overthrow the leadership of our party and state".
Jang was accused of several crimes, including corruption, womanizing and drug use.
The U.S. State Department said late Thursday it could not immediately verify the report. But spokeswoman Marie Harf said U.S. officials have no reason to doubt it. If confirmed, Harf said the execution will serve as another example of the "extreme brutality" of the North Korean regime.
Jang was married to Kim Jong Un's aunt, Kim Kyong Hui, the sister of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. Jang fell from grace in the past under Kim Jong Il when he disappeared for a few years only to return to a high rank just ahead of the leadership transition.