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Cincinnati - US Student Freed From North Korea Has Died, Family Says

Published on: June 19, 2017 04:39 PM
By: AP
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FILE - Otto Frederick Warmbier (C), a University of Virginia student who was detained in North Korea since early January, is taken to North Korea's top court in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo released by Kyodo March 16, 2016.        Mandatory credit REUTERS/Kyodo FILE - Otto Frederick Warmbier (C), a University of Virginia student who was detained in North Korea since early January, is taken to North Korea’s top court in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo released by Kyodo March 16, 2016.      Mandatory credit REUTERS/Kyodo

Cincinnati - 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.”

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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.

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 in suburban Wyoming. He was salutatorian of his 2013 class at the highly rated 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 the North Korean ambassador at the U.N. in New York. Yunthen dispatched to North Korea and visited Warmbier June 12 with two doctors and demanded his release on humanitarian grounds.



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Read Comments (8)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jun 19, 2017 at 05:41 PM VeyIzMir Says:

But you should hear the North Koreans whine when their diplomatic pouches were confiscated! Boo Hoo! Like the Dor Haflaga, bricks and mortars are worth more to them than human beings. Shame on them!

2

 Jun 19, 2017 at 06:18 PM Anonymous Says:

Animals!! I wish they pay for this horrendous crime! The question is HOW???? How sad! My deep condolence to the family.

3

 Jun 19, 2017 at 07:11 PM triumphinwhitehouse Says:

Obama's fault. Since he was rich nude Christian Obama hated him

4

 Jun 19, 2017 at 08:13 PM ilovetrump Says:

with all respect this is a very sad story but WHAT WAS HIS "CHESHBON"??? why would you go on vacation in your enemies territory, did he consult his parents before he went cmon COMMON SENSE!!!

5

 Jun 19, 2017 at 08:57 PM Anonymous Says:

"The world stood still,didn't make a sound " ...as the song on the JEP record went .

6

 Jun 20, 2017 at 06:21 AM Anonymous Says:

To #4- Your comment was condescending, and insensitive to the family of the deceased person. You appear to be blaming the victim for his demise, because of his decision to visit N. Korea. Americans have been killed visiting Israel also; did you alsomake a similar remark, when those incidents occurred?

7

 Jun 20, 2017 at 11:34 AM Israeli Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

To #4- Your comment was condescending, and insensitive to the family of the deceased person. You appear to be blaming the victim for his demise, because of his decision to visit N. Korea. Americans have been killed visiting Israel also; did you alsomake a similar remark, when those incidents occurred?

Sometimes, I don't believe the garbage I read here. You are actually comparing N. Korea & Israel? OK...... here goes.

The difference is, N Korea is a cruel, violent dictatorship ruled by a madman. Israel is nothing like that (does this really have to be said?) And while Netanyahu makes some really bad errors especially concerning terrorists, he is not insane. Let's not put them in the same boat.

8

 Jun 20, 2017 at 11:54 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

To #4- Your comment was condescending, and insensitive to the family of the deceased person. You appear to be blaming the victim for his demise, because of his decision to visit N. Korea. Americans have been killed visiting Israel also; did you alsomake a similar remark, when those incidents occurred?

Its not the same.
1) The probability of getting in trouble while visiting N korea is far greater than when traveling to Israel
2) While there are attacks in Israel, the country in itself is not a totalitarian regime. N Korea is.
3) There is atleast a religous aspect to it.

I think its important to get it out there that families should montior where their children go and not let them walk into a lions den. That also includes "free trips" to Lezshinsk where you just need to "stop over" in Japan to deliver a package.

9

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