US student Otto Warmbier dies six days after being freed from North...

US student Otto Warmbier dies six days after being freed from North Korea

In a video released by North Korean officials last year, Otto Warmbier admitted stealing a poster and pleaded for forgiveness. But he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

WASHINGTON – The American college student who was held in North Korea for 17 months before being sent home comatose six days ago died Monday afternoon, his family said.

“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 2:20 p.m. [EDT],” his family said in a statement.

The family thanked the staff 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.”

Warmbier, 22, was arrested on Jan. 2, 2016, at the airport in Pyongyang. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after being convicted of stealing a propaganda poster in his hotel. His fellow adventure travelers disputed the government’s account of events. Warmbier sobbed at his trial and pleaded for mercy.

The North Korean government blamed Warmbier’s condition on botulism, but U.S. doctors said they found no evidence of the illness. Doctors said Warmbier had lost significant brain tissue and speculated that he had a heart attack that deprived his brain of oxygen.

Warmbier’s departure from North Korea coincided with former NBA player Dennis Rodman’s arrival in North Korea for a visit. However, there is no evidence the two events were related.

Warmbier was scheduled to graduate from the University of Virginia last month.

Fred Warmbier’s father held a news conference on Thursday in which he said the Barack Obama administration did not do enough to free his son, and thanked President Donald Trump for calling the family to express his concern after the student returned to the U.S.

Warmbier was scheduled to graduate from the University of Virginia last month.

The president released a statement Monday afternoon about Warmbier’s death:

“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.”

Secretary of State Rex Tilllerson also released a statment:

“On behalf of the entire State Department and the United States government, I extend my condolences to the Warmbier family, and offer my prayers as they enter a time of grief no parent should ever know.

“We hold North Korea accountable for Otto Warmbier’s unjust imprisonment, and demand the release of three other Americans who have been illegally detained.”

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement:

“I was saddened to learn about the death of Otto Warmbier today following his unjust imprisonment and torture in North Korea. I send my heartfelt condolences to Otto’s family and friends as they grieve this tragic loss.

“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.”

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