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US student held by North Korea dies after release

19 June 2017 world-news

A US student who was held in a North Korean prison for more than a year has died just a week after his release.

Otto Warmbier was medically evacuated from the country after it emerged he had been in a coma since he was jailed in March 2016.

His parents confirmed he died on Monday.

In a statement, they said: “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 pm.”

US President Donald Trump said on hearing the news that “bad things” happened in “brutal” North Korea but at least he died at home with his parents.

Doctors from the University of Cincinnati Medical Centre said last week that the 22-year-old was suffering from injuries related to cardiopulmonary arrest and was in a state of unresponsive wakefulness.

Image: Mr Warmbier broke down as he was jailed in March 2016

The University of Virginia student was medically evacuated from North Korea and flown to Cincinnati late last Tuesday.

His parents said they were only informed of his condition a week ago.

The college student was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labour in 2016 after he admitted trying to steal a propaganda sign from the staff-only area of a hotel he was staying at.

Warmbier told reporters he was offered a used car worth $10,000 (£7,840) if he could obtain a sign, adding that $200,000 (£156,860) would be paid to his mother if he was detained and didn’t return.


The propaganda sign Mr Warmbier attempted to take from his hotel

Image: The propaganda sign Mr Warmbier attempted to take from his hotel

Following his death on Monday afternoon, Fred and Cindy Warmbier said: “The awful tumultuous treatment of our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today…

“It would be easy at a moment like this to focus on all that we lost – future time that won’t be spent with a warm, engaging, brilliant young man whose curiosity and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds.

“But we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person.

“You can tell from the outpouring of emotion from the communities that he touched – Wyoming, Ohio and the University of Virginia to name just two – that the love for Otto went well beyond his immediate family.”

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