North Korea is doubling down on claims that it did not torture the American college student who died after a year in detention.
Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student, returned home in June and died a week later after spending more than one year in a North Korean prison for crimes against the state. North Korean authorities arrested Warmbier early last year for allegedly pilfering a propaganda poster.
Pyongyang later accused Warmbier of attempting to overthrow the regime as part of an elaborate scheme orchestrated by the American government.
There is a great deal of mystery surrounding the death of the young student, as his parents assert that North Korea “brutalized and terrorized” Warmbier, arguing in a recent interview that North Korea tortured their son. North Korea claims that Warmbier came down with a severe case of botulism and slipped into a coma. Doctors have not been able to confirm either account of Warmbier’s passing.
The coroner reportedly did not detect any clear sign of torture. The coroner determined the cause of death to be a brain damage due to a lack of oxygen, but the exact manner of death was “undetermined.” While there is no immediate evidence of torture, there are types of abuse that might not leave physical evidence, such as scars or bone fractures. North Korea has a documented history of brutality, and it has shown little concern for human rights.
While the nature of Warmbier’s death remains unclear, President Donald Trump has, on several occasions, mentioned the young man’s passing as an example of North Korea’s brutality.
“We were all witness to the regime’s deadly abuse when an innocent American college student, Otto Warmbier, was returned to America only to die a few days later,” the president said in his first address at the United Nations General Assembly.
After the Warmbiers spoke about their son’s experiences on “Fox & Friends,” Trump tweeted that “Otto was tortured beyond belief by North Korea.”
The parents called for North Korea to be re-listed as a state-sponsor of terror, something North Korea definitely does not want.
“Trump and his clique, for their anti-DPRK propaganda, are exploiting the death of Otto Warmbier,” the Korean Central News Agency argued Thursday. “The U.S. is employing a dead person for the conspiracy campaign to fuel the international atmosphere of putting pressure on the DPRK.”
“Warmbier was a criminal,” the report explained, “However, we provided him with sincere medical care on humanitarian grounds in consideration of his failing health until he returned to the U.S.”
North Korean state media declared that the “old lunatic Trump” is launching an “anti-DPRK conspiracy” against the regime, adding that this proves North Korea should not show mercy to American prisoners, such as the three remaining U.S. captives still being held by the North.
Regardless of whether or not North Korea tortured Warmbier, he would almost certainly still be alive had North Korea not detained him on wild charges. The young man would also probably be alive had he not decided to visit North Korea, completely disregarding strong warnings from the Department of State, which has officially banned Americans from traveling to North Korea.
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