North Korea denies torturing U.S. student Warmbier

Pauline Gross
June 26, 2017

North Korea has accused the U.S. of conducting a smear campaign against the regime over Otto Warmbier, the American student who was sent home in a coma after 17 months in prison.

North Korea said Friday that the death of Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old American imprisoned in the country for 17 months, is a "complete mystery" to them.

Some American officials declared that North Korea "murdered" him, and proposed that the USA take action against Pyongyang, through travel restrictions and tougher economic sanctions.

The family announced Warmbier's death in a statement, saying that 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 received today".

KCNA quoted an unnamed spokesman for the country's National Reconciliation Council as saying: "Our relevant agencies treat all criminals. thoroughly in accordance with domestic laws and worldwide standards and Warmbier was not an exception".

Accused of stealing a propaganda sign from a hotel, he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labour.

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 known for illegally detaining USA citizens on false allegations of spying and anti-state crimes.

Hundreds of people gathered at his funeral on Thursday.

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Hundreds of mourners are celebrating the life of an American college student who was detained in North Korea for over a year and died shortly after being returned home to OH in a coma.

The North Korean spokesman quoted by Reuters suggested the student had returned to the usa "in his normal state of health".

Warmbier, a student at the University of Virginia, was arrested in 2015 on accusations that he tried to steal a propaganda banner during a visit to North Korea and was later convicted of subversion.

The funeral service was held at the 22 year old's former high school in Ohio.

Pyongyang then went on, saying North Korea is the "biggest victim" in Warmbier's death.

Portman said sanctions against North Korea should be tightened, WVXU reports.

US officials have not been able to provide a cause of death for Warmbier, in part because his family objected to an autopsy being performed. "He should have never been detained in the first place", Senator Rob Portman of OH told reporters on Thursday. "The North Koreans need to be held to accountable for that".

President Donald Trump said he was running out of patience with the North Korean regime.

Other reports by GizPress

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