US man Otto Warmbier dies after returning home from being detained in North Korea
Otto Warmbier, the US man who had been detained in North Korea, has died after returning home in a coma, according to his family.
The University of Virginia student was detained for nearly a year and a half and died Monday afternoon (local time), his parents announced.
Warmbier returned from North Korea last week in a coma.
His father Fred Warmbier denounced the "pariah" regime that brutalised his son.
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* Comatose student released by North Korea arrives home
* Otto Warmbier sentenced to 15 years' hard labour in North Korea
* North Korea detains Otto Warmbier for 'hostile act'
Last year, Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labour in North Korea, convicted of subversion after he tearfully confessed he had tried to steal a propaganda banner.
The University of Virginia student was held for more than 17 months and medically evacuated from North Korea last week. Doctors said he returned with severe brain damage, but it wasn't clear what caused it.
Fred and Cindy Warmbier issued a statement Monday afternoon:
"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 p.m."
"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.
"We would like to thank the wonderful professionals at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who did everything they could for Otto.
"Unfortunately, the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today.
"When Otto returned to Cincinnati late on June 13th he was unable to speak, unable to see and unable to react to verbal commands.
"He looked very uncomfortable - almost anguished. Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day the countenance of his face changed - he was at peace. He was home and we believe he could sense that.
"We thank everyone around the world who has kept him and our family in their thoughts and prayers. We are at peace and at home too.
"Fred & Cindy Warmbier and Family."
DETAINED STUDENT RETURNS HOME IN COMA
Warmbier was taken by Medivac to Cincinnati, where he grew up in suburban Wyoming.
Ohio's US senators sharply criticised North Korea soon after his release.
Republican Senator Rob Portman of the Cincinnati area said North Korea should be "universally condemned for its abhorrent behaviour."
Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Cleveland said the country's "despicable actions ... must be condemned." Portman added that the Warmbiers have "had to endure more than any family should have to bear."
Three Americans remain held in North Korea. The US government accuses North Korea of using such detainees as political pawns. North Korea accuses Washington and South Korea of sending spies to overthrow its government.
At the time of Warmbier's release, a White House official said Joseph Yun, the US envoy on North Korea, had met with North Korean foreign ministry representatives in Norway the previous month. Such direct consultations between the two governments are rare because they don't have formal diplomatic relations.
At the meeting, North Korea agreed that Swedish diplomats could visit all four American detainees.
Yun learned about Warmbier's condition in a meeting a week before the release from the North Korean ambassador at the UN in New York.
Yun then went to North Korea and visited Warmbier on June 12 with two doctors and demanded his release on humanitarian grounds.
- Washington Post and AP