Warmbier suffered severe brain damage while being held by the brutal North Korean regime.
Otto Warmbier – a U.S. university student who was held prisoner by North Korea for the “crime” of taking down a propaganda poster – has died just days after his release.
He was just 22 years old.
After being held in prison for 17 months, the North Korean regime released him back to his family in the United States. However, Warmbier was in a persistent vegetative state (or what doctors called unresponsive wakefulness) and never regained consciousness.
In a statement, the Warmbier family said “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.”
Warmbier’s father had criticized former U.S. President Barack Obama for failing to bring their son home, while praising President Donald Trump for helping secure Otto’s release.
According to Reuters, “The circumstances of his detention in North Korea and what medical treatment he may have received there remained a mystery, but relatives have said his condition suggested that he had been physically abused by his captors.”
Full statement by the family of Otto Warmbier
“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.”
Statement by US President Donald Trump on the death of Otto Warmbier
Melania and I offer our deepest condolences to the family of Otto Warmbier on his untimely passing. There is nothing more tragic for a parent than to lose a child in the prime of life. Our thoughts and prayers are with Otto’s family and friends, and all who loved him.
Otto’s fate deepens my Administration’s determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency. The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim.
Trump also commented on Warmbier’s death during a meeting with tech leaders:
The United States has not yet revealed whether retaliatory measures will be sought against North Korea.