Otto Warmbier has died, a week after release from North Korea

Pierre Vaugeois
Juin 20, 2017

Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor in North Korea, convicted of subversion after he tearfully confessed he had tried to steal a propaganda banner.

Otto Warmbier, the University of Virginia student who was taken prisoner in North Korea, has died.

"It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home". "Unfortunately, the bad torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today", they said. Doctors said he returned with severe brain damage, but it wasn't clear what caused it.

Just yesterday, his father Fred said: "Otto's not in great shape right now".

Richardson says he got involved in seeking Warbier's release more than a year ago at the invitation of the student's family and Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich (KAY'-sihk).

"He was peace. He was home, and we believe he could sense that", they said.

The young man from outside of Cincinnati planned on studying overseas during his third year of college in China, which is how he ended up taking a trip to North Korea.

He was a college student who, if he was not taken prisoner and life had gone to plan, would now be in his first month as a new graduate of the University of Virginia.

Doctors said he has suffered extensive loss of brain tissue and "profound weakness and contraction" of his muscles, arms and legs.

Warmbier was able to open and blink his eyes, but appeared not to understand language or verbal commands. The North Korean explanation for Warmbier's state was that he contracted botulism, a potentially fatal bacterial illness, and fell into a coma after taking a sleeping pill.

However, Cincinnati doctors caring for Warmbier said they found no indication of remaining botulism - but they also said it's likely the toxin would no longer be in the body after more than a year.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Otto's family and friends, and all who loved him".

His parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, said in a statement that their son died on Monday afternoon. He was critical of the approach to his son's situation taken by former President Barack Obama's administration.

The younger Warmbier grew up in the northern Cincinnati suburb of Wyoming. He was salutatorian of his 2013 class at a highly rated high school and was on the soccer team.

Ohio's USA senators sharply criticized North Korea soon after his release. Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Cleveland said the country's "despicable actions ... must be condemned". Portman added that the Warmbiers have "had to endure more than any family should have to bear".

After being freed from North Korea on June 13, he had been in a state of "unresponsive wakefulness", according to his doctors.

North Korean authorities revealed to the USA special envoy that Warmbier had been comatose for more than a year and receiving medical care in the country.

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