“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 2:20 p.m.”
Otto Warmbier was a student at the University of Virginia when he was detained in January 2016. He had signed up for a trip to North Korea with Young Pioneer Tours travel group. The trip was to be a brief stay. He was also planning to visit Beijing afterwards.
However, as Otto ended his trip and tried to depart from Pyongyang’s airport, he was immediately stopped by security. The North Korean government says that he was detained for stealing a political poster from a restricted floor in his hotel. Warmbier appeared to be distraught when the news broke, as video shows him breaking down in front of Korean journalists in February 2016.
Warmbier admitted to the crime and begged for forgiveness. Instead of being released like he pleaded, he was instead sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
North Korean officials say Otto fell into a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill in March 2016. However, U.S. doctors have reported that they found no evidence of the illness.
“Let us state the facts plainly: Otto Warmbier, an American citizen, was murdered by the Kim Jong Un regime,” said US Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.
reports, members of the highest levels of the American government are pointing the blame towards North Korea for unjust imrisonment. Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, even advocated for Warmbier to be released.
President Donald Trump expressed his condolences to the Warmbier family. He says:
“There is nothing more tragic for a parent than to lose a child in the prime of life… 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. The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim.”
The 22-year-old had returned to the United States last week. He hadn’t publicly spoken out since then. In a news conference last Thursday, doctors called his condition “unresponsive wakefulness.” They also revealed that he had suffered significant brain damage during his imprisonment.
Here Are 6 Other Americans Who Have Been Detained In North Korea: