Death of American detained in North Korea baffles experts

Pauline Gross
June 20, 2017

A coroner's office in OH is investigating the death of a 22-year-old college student who died less than a week after his return to the USA after almost a year and a half in North Korean detention, a spokesman said Tuesday. Doctors say he has suffered a severe brain injury.

His death "reflects a reality that the North Korean people know all too well: The Kim family leadership. will not hesitate to brutalise and kill to maintain their hold on power", it said in a statement.

University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan says her thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of 22-year-old Otto Warmbier (WORM'-bir) "during what has been an incredibly hard time". The news could lead the U.S. to take a tougher line on China, the hermit regime's closest ally, as the two superpowers begin high level talks this week.

Richardson calls on North Korea to release three Americans and a Canadian detained in the country in response to Monday's death of University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier (WORM'-bir).

North Korea said Warmbier went into a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill. But US doctors said they found no evidence of the illness. John McCain, R-Arizona.

North Korea must bear "heavy responsibility" for Warmbier's death, said South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

"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".

Three South Korean nationals were detained in North Korea during their missionary work respectively since 2013 and the remaining three South Koreans are North Korean defectors who returned and are now held in custody, a lawmaker briefed by the South Korean spy agency told reporters last week.

President Donald Trump has offered condolences to Warmbier's family.

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Warmbier's parents have not cited a specific cause of death, but pointed to "awful, torturous mistreatment" by North Korea.

Warmbier was convicted of subversion in North Korea after he tearfully confessed he tried to steal a propaganda banner.

But as he tried to depart from Pyongyang's airport, he was stopped in security. He was put before North Korean officials and journalists for a televised "confession".

13 June 2017 -He is released from North Korea and medically evacuated to the US. He pleaded to be released. Within weeks, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison and hard labor.

"Now, the assessment of risk for Americans visiting North Korea has become too high", it said, adding, "we will no longer be organising tours for USA citizens to North Korea".

The tour operator said it was denied any opportunity to meet him after his detention, and that the way it was handled was "appalling". FILE - In this March 16, 2016, file photo, American student Otto Warmbier, center, is escorted at the Supreme Court in Pyongyang, North Korea.

An American college student who was released by North Korea in a coma has died in Ohio.

Warmbier, a onetime high school football player and homecoming king, was travelling in Beijing in December 2015 when he signed up for a five-day tour of North Korea with a Chinese company that advertised "budget travel to destinations your mother would rather you stayed away from".

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea's missile and nuclear tests, its carefully scripted propaganda bluster, even its military threats: Far from the scattershot workings of a madman, most of this fits the playbook of a small, proud country well used to stoking tensions to get concessions it would otherwise not receive from surrounding big powers. "Every life is important - Otto's life, lives of the American detainees, and the lives of each person in North Korea", Bae said.

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