Korea denies torturing USA student Warmbier

Angie Massey
June 26, 2017

Thousands of friends and family members gathered in suburban Cincinnati on Thursday to say goodbye to an American student who died days after being returned to the USA in a coma following 17 months in captivity in North Korea.

The comments published by KCNA were North Korea's first reaction to Otto Warmbier's death in a USA hospital on Monday [Tuesday NZ Time] after it released him for what it called humanitarian reasons. But the spokesman, whom state news did not identify, said that American doctors who flew to Pyongyang to evacuate Mr. Warmbier recognized that the North had "provided him with medical treatment and brought him back alive" after his "heart was almost stopped".

"The bad torturous mistreatment our son experienced at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today", reads a statement issued by Warmbier's family after his death.

There has been wide speculation that Warmbier suffered some form of physical abuse, which caused "severe damage to all regions of his brain" and ultimately led to his death.

Warmbier had been on a tourist trip to North Korea when he was detained and sentenced to hard labour early previous year for allegedly stealing a political poster from a North Korean hotel. "Our related institutions are treating criminals who committed crimes against [our] republic strictly based on domestic law and global standards, and Warmbier was no different".

The North Koreans said that constituted a "hostile act" - and sentenced him to 15 years of hard labor.

"North Korea needs to be held accountable for what happened to Otto Warmbier", Portman says.

A spokesman in Pyongyang was quoted by Reuters as saying the death was "a mystery".

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A separate KCNA article published hours earlier criticised South Korea for using Warmbier's case to seek the release of other detainees, including six South Korean citizens.

North Korea is now holding three other US citizens.

He was sent to his home in OH on Tuesday, June 13, on "humanitarian grounds", but died just six days later having been sent home in a coma.

Some 2,500 mourners attended a Thursday morning memorial at Wyoming High School.

The exact cause of Warmbier's death is unclear. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that China shared the same goal of eliminating nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula, while State Councilor Yang Jiechi told Trump that China was willing to coordinate with the U.S.in dealing with North Korea.

North Korea issued a statement last July threatening to shut down its NY channel of communication with the United States, while refusing to talk with diplomats about the detainees.

North Korea denies any mistreatment. "We don't believe anything they say".

Other reports by GizPress

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