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North Korea: 'We Are the Biggest Victim' in Otto Warmbier's Death

24 Juin 2017

The family of Otto Warmbier, the University of Virginia student imprisoned by North Korea who died after being sent back comatose to the United States, hid his Jewishness from the public as negotiations for his release took place, a family spokesman said.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said Wednesday that the recent death of Otto Warmbier, the 22-year-old college student who was held captive by North Korea, "goes beyond any kind of understanding of law and order, of humanity, of responsibility towards any human being".

In a statement on Friday, the North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman rejected Washington's claims that Warmbier had been provided with proper medical treatment, saying North Korea was also puzzled why the student died right after arriving in the United States.

Sen. John McCain said Tuesday that Americans who are "stupid" enough to still want to travel to North Korea should be required to sign a waiver absolving the USA government of any blame should they be harmed while there.

The spokesman also said that "groundless" speculation of torture and beatings could be refuted by American doctors who came to the North to examine Mr Warmbier before his release and allegedly acknowledged that North Korean doctors had "brought him back alive" after his heart almost stopped.

He was sentenced two months later to 15 years of hard labour for trying to steal an item bearing a propaganda slogan from his hotel, North Korea state media said.

But the state-run Korean Central News Agency said Friday said that Warmbier was treated in accordance with domestic law.

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Warmbier was detained and sentenced to hard labor early past year while he was in a hotel on a tourist trip. The Obama administration failed to secure Warmbier's release but it succeeded in getting 10 other prisoners of the regime free.

Wyoming officials say the celebration of life for Otto Warmbier will be Thursday morning in the Wyoming High School auditorium.

North Korea also further reemphasized their stance that Otto's sentence was deserving of his offense, which they maintain was an act of subversion against the government while also attempting to ward off "groundless" accusations that Otto was tortured or beaten.

Seoul's demands were "slanderous talk about cruel treatment and torture" with no basis in reality, according to the DPRK.

Kenneth Bae, an American who was jailed for almost two years in North Korea, told CNN he believed Warmbier could have been tortured, and cautioned other Americans against going to North Korea. President Donald Trump slammed Warmbier's detention and eventual death as "a total disgrace".

Portman said sanctions against North Korea should be tightened, WVXU reports.

The United States has demanded North Korea release three other US citizens it holds in detention: missionary Kim Dong Chul and academics Tony Kim and Kim Hak Song.