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Korea Denies Torturing US Student Warmbier

26 Juin 2017

"The fact that Warmbier died suddenly in less than a week just after his return to the U.S. in his normal state of health ... is a mystery to us as well", the ministry spokesman said, according to the official KCNA news agency.

North Korea said Friday that the death of Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old American imprisoned in the country for 17 months, is a "complete mystery" to them.

The comments published by KCNA were North Korea's first reaction to Otto Warmbier's death in a United States hospital on Monday [Tuesday NZ Time] after it released him for what it called humanitarian reasons.

"The bad torturous mistreatment our son experienced at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today", reads a statement issued by Warmbier's family after his death.

KCNA quoted an unnamed spokesman for the country's National Reconciliation Council as saying: "Our relevant agencies treat all criminals. thoroughly in accordance with domestic laws and global standards and Warmbier was not an exception". But he was arrested in Pyongyang in January 2016 and, as we have reported, was accused of trying to steal a propaganda poster. "That's why it remains a mystery for us why he died just a week after returning home", the diplomat said.

Otto Warmbier died on Monday, less than a week after he was returned from North Korea in a coma.

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North Korean officials told USA envoys that Warmbier contracted botulism after his trial and lapsed into a coma after taking a sleeping pill. As President Donald Trump's administration takes office one year later, there's been little public word about what has happened to Warmbier.

Although Rodman appeared to believe he played some role in securing Warmbier's release, he maintained his visits to North Korea were not an attempt to carry out a political agenda or negotiate for detainees' release. We are at peace and at home too, ' they said.

Warmbier was travelling in North Korea with a tour group, and was arrested at Pyongyang airport as he was about to leave.

The official said the USA administration was using the death to pile more pressure on North Korea.

The statement said the country was being subjected to a "smear campaign" and described themselves as the "biggest victims" in the incident. He said North Korea's treatment of Warmbier demonstrated "a basic disregard for human rights, for human dignity".

"Although there was no reason for us to have compassion for hostile criminals, taking into consideration his worsening health we provided care to the utmost, on humanitarian grounds, until he was repatriated to the United States", the spokesman said.