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US Student Freed by North Korea in a Coma Has Died

Image: US Student Freed by North Korea in a Coma Has Died

Monday, 19 Jun 2017 05:05 PM

Otto Warmbier, an American college student who was released by North Korea in a coma last week, died Monday afternoon. He was 22.

The family announced his death in a statement released by UC Health Systems, saying, "It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home. Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died today at 2:20pm."

The family thanked the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for treating him but said, "Unfortunately, the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today."

They said they were choosing to focus on the time they were given with their "warm, engaging, brilliant" son instead of focusing on what they had lost.

President Donald Trump on Monday denounced North Korea as "a brutal regime."

Speaking moments after news of Warmbier's death was announced publicly, Trump hit out at Pyongyang.

"It's a brutal regime," the president said during a White House event. "Bad things happened but at least we got him home to his parents."

In a separate written statement, Trump offered his "deepest condolences" to Warmbier's family "on his untimely passing."

"There is nothing more tragic for a parent than to lose a child in the prime of life. Our thoughts and prayers are with Otto's family and friends, and all who loved him."

"Otto's fate deepens my Administration's determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency."

"The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim."

Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor in North Korea, convicted of subversion after he tearfully confessed he had tried to steal a propaganda banner.

The University of Virginia student was held for more than 17 months and medically evacuated from North Korea last week. Doctors said he returned with severe brain damage, but it wasn't clear what caused it.

Parents Fred and Cindy Warmbier told The Associated Press in a statement the day of his release that they wanted "the world to know how we and our son have been brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime " and expressed relief he had been returned to "finally be with people who love him."

He was taken by Medivac to Cincinnati, where he grew up. He was salutatorian of his 2013 class at the highly rated high school,Wyoming High School,  and was on the soccer team among other activities.

Ohio's U.S. senators sharply criticized North Korea soon after his release.

Republican Sen. Rob Portman of the Cincinnati area said North Korea should be "universally condemned for its abhorrent behavior." Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Cleveland said the country's "despicable actions ... must be condemned." Portman added that the Warmbiers have "had to endure more than any family should have to bear."

Three Americans remain held in North Korea. The U.S. government accuses North Korea of using such detainees as political pawns. North Korea accuses Washington and South Korea of sending spies to overthrow its government.

At the time of Warmbier's release, a White House official said Joseph Yun, the U.S. envoy on North Korea, had met with North Korean foreign ministry representatives in Norway the previous month. Such direct consultations between the two governments are rare because they don't have formal diplomatic relations.

At the meeting, North Korea agreed that Swedish diplomats could visit all four American detainees. Yun learned about Warmbier's condition in a meeting a week before the release by  the North Korean ambassador to the U.N. in New York. Yun was then dispatched to North Korea and visited Warmbier June 12 with two doctors and demanded his release on humanitarian grounds.

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Otto Warmbier, an American college student who was released by North Korea in a coma last week, died Monday afternoon. He was 22. The family announced his death in a statement released by UC Health Systems, saying, "It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier,...
otto warmbier, dies, north, korea, prisoner, student
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2017-05-19
Monday, 19 Jun 2017 05:05 PM
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