Just a week after being released by North Korea, 22-year old Otto Warmbier has died. His death is still a mystery although it is believed he received trauma at the hands of his North Korean captors.
He was arrested in 2016 after traveling to North Korea and attempted to steal a propaganda poster. He was released last week in a state of what doctors called “unresponsive wakefulness.”
The doctors who treated Warmbier said they had agreed not to speak about his outlook, but they had said he did not require help breathing.
The Warmbier family did not say how Otto died.
“We would like to thank the wonderful professionals at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who did everything they could for Otto. 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,” the family said in their statement.
“It would be easy at a moment like this to focus on all that we lost — future time that won’t be spent with a warm, engaging, brilliant young man whose curiosity and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds,” the family added.
“You can tell from the outpouring of emotion from the communities that he touched — Wyoming, Ohio and the University of Virginia to name just two — that the love for Otto went well beyond his immediate family.”
Warmbier, a student at the University of Virginia, was detained in Pyongyang in January 2016 while on a tourist trip to North Korea. He was charged with committing a hostile act against the government after officials said he had tried to steal a propaganda banner from a hotel. After a one-hour trial, he was convicted and sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor.
Warmbier’s father, Fred, said his son was “brutalized” by the North Koreans.
In their statement, the family said that “when Otto returned to Cincinnati late on June 13th he was unable to speak, unable to see and unable to react to verbal commands.”
“He looked very uncomfortable — almost anguished. Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day the countenance of his face changed — he was at peace,” they said. “He was home and we believe he could sense that.”
President Trump didn’t mince words in his comments to the family on the loss of their son and about the rogue regime in Pyongyang.
“Melania and I offer our deepest condolences to the family of Otto Warmbier on his untimely passing,” President Donald Trump said in a statement. “There is nothing more tragic for a parent than to lose a child in the prime of life.
“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 president said. “The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim.”
The entire article and interview from NBC News can be found here:
Featured photo: CNN