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- Otto Warmbier — the American college student imprisoned in North Korea after allegedly trying to steal a propaganda poster from a Pyongyang hotel in January 2016 — died at a Cincinnati hospital, his family announced Monday.
- The 22-year-old University of Virginia student was released by North Korea in a coma last Tuesday after being held captive by the Kim Jong-un regime for more than 17 months.
- In a statement released by UC Health, Warmbier’s parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, said that their son “has completed his journey home.” The family wrote:
“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.
When Otto returned to Cincinnati late on June 13, 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. He was home, and we believe he could sense that.”
- The cause of Warmbier’s year-long coma has not been confirmed.
- Doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center described Warmbier’s condition as “a state of unresponsive wakefulness,” during a press conference on 15 June.
- Dr. Daniel Kanter said:
“[Warmbier] shows no signs of understanding language, responding to verbal commands or awareness of his surroundings… [A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan revealed] extensive loss of brain tissue in all regions of the brain.”
- Three other Americans — Tony Kim, Kim Hak-song, and Kim Dong-Chu — are currently imprisoned in North Korea.
- President Donald Trump issued the following statement on Monday:
“Melania and I offer our deepest condolences to the family of Otto Warmbier 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.”
- Trump spoke to reporters in the Oval Office about Warmbier’s death:
- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement:
“We hold North Korea accountable for Otto Warmbier’s unjust imprisonment, and demand the release of three other Americans who have been illegally detained.”
- Sen. John McCain (Arizona) accused the Kim Jong-un regime of murdering Warmbier:
“Let us state the facts plainly: Otto Warmbier, an American citizen, was murdered by the Kim Jong-un regime. In the final year of his life, he lived the nightmare in which the North Korean people have been trapped for 70 years: forced labor, mass starvation, systematic cruelty, torture, and murder.
North Korea is threatening its neighbors, destabilizing the Asia-Pacific region, and rapidly developing the technology to strike the American homeland with nuclear weapons. Now it has escalated to brutalizing Americans, including three other citizens currently imprisoned in North Korea. The United States of America cannot and should not tolerate the murder of its citizens by hostile powers.”
- Rep. Eliot Engel (New York), the Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called on North Korea to release the three other Americans currently held captive by the Kim regime:
“The Kim regime’s treatment of Mr. Warmbier is shocking, their ongoing denial of consular access is unacceptable, and this tragedy has shown the world once again the regime’s ruthlessness and complete disregard for human life.
I call on the Kim regime to immediately release Tony Kim, Kim Hak-song and Kim Dong-Chul—three American citizens currently being held in North Korea. I urge the Administration to make every effort to secure their release and safe return.”
- Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) wrote in a statement:
“Otto Warmbier was such a promising young man. He was kind, generous and accomplished. He had all the talent you could ever ask for and a bright future ahead of him. His passing today is a loss for Ohio and for all of us. Jane and I are lifting up the Warmbier family in our prayers at this difficult time, and we are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of this remarkable young Ohioan.”
- Ohio Gov. John Kasich wrote in a statement:
“All Ohioans mourn the death of Otto Warmbier, a young man of exceptional spirit. Our prayers go out to his family, who have shown great strength and courage throughout this terrible ordeal. This horrendous situation further underscores the evil, oppressive nature of the North Korean regime that has such disregard for human life.”
Jinghong Chen contributed to this report.