Otto Warmbier’s family is blaming North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un and former President Obama for his death. The University of Virginia student confessed that he stole a propaganda poster during a sightseeing tour to the communist country in 2016. He admitted taking the poster as a trophy in exchange for a used car worth $10,000 back in the US.
The 22-year-old was tried as a spy and sentenced to 15 years in a labor camp. He was released June 13 on humanitarian grounds after claims by North Korean authorities that he took a sleeping pill and never recovered consciousness. He was allegedly in a coma for over a year before he was released.
Otto Warmbier intended to only spend five days visiting North Korea. Instead, he ended up spending 17 months in detention. The 22-year-old died shortly after he was released and returned back to America. Otto was in a vegetative state, unable to communicate with family members. Doctors who examined him before his death noted that he had suffered extensive brain damage consistent with oxygen been cut off from the brain.
His parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier described him as an intelligent young man who had a zest for life and all its curiosities. They revealed that even though their son could not talk when he first entered the United States, his anguish changed to peace after he arrived at their Wyoming family home. Fred and Cindy, in a statement made available to the Daily Mail, faulted the treatment of their son at the hands of the North Koreans, noting the outcome was inevitable.
“The awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experience today.”
North Korea claimed Otto contracted botulism in March 2016. Botulism is a severe form of food poisoning that leads to paralysis, breathing difficulties, and eventually death. Officials of the communist country allege that the college student contracted the disease while in custody. However, US doctors have said they found no trace of the disease in his system.
Two MRI scans of Otto Warmbier’s body were sent back with him. The scans were taken in April and July of 2016, and US doctors say they found no evidence of physical trauma. However, Otto’s family believe he was psychologically tortured into a coma despite no apparent injuries.
Otto’s father, speaking to NBC News, lauded the Trump administration for securing his son’s release even as he criticized President Obama’s soft approach to the situation.
“When Otto was first taken, we were advised by the past administration to take a low profile while they worked to obtain his release…We relied on this false premise they would treat Otto fairly and let him go…I think the results speak for themselves.”
Otto Warmbier’s release was secured after Special Representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Y. Yun learned of Warmbier’s worsening health. The State Department Special Representative, following a directive from President Trump to facilitate the release of Americans held in North Korea, asked for the 22-year-old to be freed because of his deteriorating condition.
Yun held a meeting with the North Korean UN Mission Ambassador Pak Kil-Yon on June 6. By June 12, Yun was in North Korea with a medical team to bring Warmbier back to the US.
Otto Warmbier died six days after.
[Featured Image by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images]