Society

Trump Comments On Detained Student's Death

| by Michael Doherty

President Donald Trump has called the death of American student Otto Warmbier, who was detained in North Korea for for almost a year and a half, a "disgrace."

22-year-old Otto had been visiting the country with a tour group when he was arrested for allegedly taking a propaganda poster off of a wall, NBC reports. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in prison, but was released in June, 17 months after his arrest, in a coma.

According to his family, Otto died June 19. North Korean authorities claimed that the student had fallen into the unresponsive state after taking a sleeping pill and experiencing botulism.

American doctors who examined Otto found evidence of severe brain damage that may have been caused by a traumatic injury, according to Town Hall.

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"I just want to pass on the word that Otto Warmbier has just passed away. He spent a year and a half in North Korea. A lot of bad things happened," said Trump. "But at least we got him home to be with his parents where they were so happy to see him even though he was in very tough condition. But he just passed away a little while ago."

Otto's father, Fred Warmbier, thanked Trump for his role in seeking Otto's release, implying that former President Barack Obama's administration had not been aggressive enough pursuing the release of his son.

"When Otto was first taken we were advised by the past administration to take a low profile while they worked to obtain his release," said Fred. "We did so without result."

"Earlier this year, [Otto's mother] Cindy and I decided the time for strategic patience was over," added the father. "It is my understanding that Ambassador Yun and his team, at the direction of the president, aggressively pursued resolution of the situation. I think the results speak for themselves."

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"It would be easy at a moment like this to focus on all that we lost," read a statement from Otto's family, according to Business Insider. "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."

The president suggested that North Korea will face consequences for what happened to the young man.

"It is a brutal regime and we'll be able to handle it," said Trump.

"It's a total disgrace what happened to Otto," he added. "If he were brought home sooner I think the result would've been a lot different."

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also commented on Otto's death.

"On behalf of the entire State Department and the United States government, I extend my condolences to the Warmbier family, and offer my prayers as they enter a time of grief no parent should ever know," said Tillerson.

"We hold North Korea accountable for Otto Warmbier’s unjust imprisonment, and demand the release of three other Americans who have been illegally detained," he added.

Sources: NBC, Town Hall, Business Insider / Photo Credit: Marian.Mizdrea/Flickr

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