Trump offers condolences to Warmbier family

Danny Woods
June 20, 2017

Otto Warmbier, the University of Virginia student who was detained in North Korea for almost a year and a half, died Monday afternoon, his parents announced.

In a statement released by Warmbier's family to ABC, his family confirmed he had died at approximately 2:20 p.m. Monday.

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".

"His neurological condition can be best described as a state of unresponsive wakefulness", said Dr. Daniel Kanter, director of neurocritical care for the University of Cincinnati Health system.

"Kanter and his colleagues say they've found no evidence that Warmbier, who has demonstrated no awareness of his surroundings, suffered from the effects of botulism - a finding that appears to contradict the explanation offered by his North Korean captors. He looked very uncomfortable - nearly anguished", they said.

"Let us state the facts plainly: Otto Warmbier, an American citizen, was murdered by the Kim Jong-un regime", the Republican from Arizona said in a statement.

Warmbier, a student at the University of Virginia, was serving as 15-year hard labor prison term after he was accused and confessed to "a crime "pursuant to the USA government's hostile policy toward (the North), in a bid to impair the unity of its people after entering it as a tourist".

In a White House statement, Trump said, "A lot of bad things happened, but at least we got him home to be with his parents".

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"This is not a very good situation to try to improve the relationship with North Korea when they treat our people like this", he said in an interview with a New York-based radio station, according to the Hill newspaper.

The University of Virginia student and OH native was arrested, according to North Korean media, for trying to steal an item bearing a propaganda slogan.

North Korea claims Warmbier wound up in a coma after suffering from botulism and taking a sleeping pill.

North Korea accused U.S. authorities on Sunday of "mugging" its diplomats at the John F Kennedy airport in NY, forcibly confiscating a diplomatic package which it said raised questions about the city as the seat of the United Nations.

The circumstances of his detention in North Korea, and what medical treatment he received there, remained a mystery.

The pair talked about Warmbier's relief at his son's release from North Korea after being held captive since January 2016.

He had served 17 months of a prison sentence and was returned to the United States in a coma last week. It's a tragic turn of events for an exceptionally promising young life.

The young man was on a tourist trip when he was arrested and sentenced in March last year to 15 years hard labor for stealing a political poster from a North Korean hotel, a punishment the United States decried as far out of proportion to his alleged crime. "Why didn't they notify proper global medical authorities -- the Swedish government that represents us?" he said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and all who knew this wonderful young man". "We are at peace and at home too".

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