Otto Warmbier, 22, a student at the University of Virginia had been arrested last year in North Korea for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster from his hotel room. He was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment with hard labor and after spending 17 months in harsh North Korean captivity, he was medically evacuated to the United States last week. He was returned to the US in a state of “unresponsive wakefulness” and passed away in a Cincinnati hospital, as announced by his parents Fred and Cindy Warmbier who also stated that their son was “destroyed” and “systematically tortured” by the authoritarian regime.
Fred and Cindy Warmbier said their son had a shaved head, was blind and deaf when he was returned to them. “Howling,” “staring blankly into space, jerking violently,” and making an “involuntary, inhuman sound” is how Otto’s parents described his condition upon his return.
Mr. Fred Warmbier gave Fox News the chilling account that, “As we looked at him and tried to comfort him it looked like someone had taken a pair of pliers and rearranged his bottom teeth.”
North Korea has claimed that 22-year-old Otto fell into a coma after he suffered botulism and vehemently hit out hard at what they claimed was “slanderous talk about cruel treatment and torture.” The regime has completely denied that it ever tortured the American student.
However, Otto’s parents have hit out at the “completely unfair” claims by North Korea about their son not being tortured. Mr. Warmbier stated that Otto “was on his deathbed” when he was handed over to them adding that he was “systematically tortured and intentionally injured by Kim Jong Un and his regime.” Mr. Warmbier refused to accept that the incident was an “accident.”
Cindy Warmbier, Otto’s mother, added that her son was “destroyed” by North Korea and the sole reason they released him was that “they didn’t want him to die on their soil.”
President Trump in his address on Monday passed on his condolences to the Warmbiers while also commending the “talented” team that managed to bring Otto back. While the President acknowledged that the treatment meted out to Otto was inhuman, other political figures such as Senator John McCain bluntly accused North Korea of “murdering” Otto.
Travel company Young Pioneer Tours which took Otto Warmbier to the authoritarian North Korea has said that because the “risk is too high,” it will no longer be taking any Americans into the country.