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Family Says Otto Warmbier, American Released By North Korea, Has Died
20 June 2017, 10:07 | Terri Saunders
Student Held By North Korea Dies After Returning To US
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in a statement that "countless innocent men and women have died at the hands of the North Korean criminals, but the singular case of Otto Warmbier touches the American heart like no other".
"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 was in a coma.
"The terrible torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible", the family said in a statement announcing Warmbier's death.
He confessed to stealing the poster during his trial in March 2016 and was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, BBC reported.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement he received the news of the American student's death with "deep sadness".
"The entire McIntire School community is deeply saddened by this tragedy, and we send our honest condolences to the Warmbier family and friends", Dean Carl Zeithaml said Monday.
Doctors who examined Otto Warmbier after his release said there was no sign of botulism in his system. The North Koreans kept his condition a secret for over a year, depriving him of the quality medical treatment he desperately needed.
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After months of detention, Warmbier was flown to his home state OH from North Korea on June 13.
He was taken by Medivac to Cincinnati, where he grew up in suburban Wyoming. The young man returned home in a coma having sustained "severe injuries to all regions of the brain", according to the medical professionals tasked with his care.
The student's father, Fred Warmbier, said last week that his son had been "brutalised and terrorised by the Pyongyang government and that the family disbelieved North Korea's story that his son had fallen into a coma after contracting botulism and being given a sleeping pill".
The 22-year-old student's death may escalate tensions between the two countries as the US has been trying to block North Korea's push to secure a nuclear-armed missile, capable of reaching North America. "He looked very uncomfortable-almost anguished", they said.
They added: "He was home and we believe he could sense that".
President Donald Trump called North Korea a "brutal regime" after the death was announced. Later, shortly after his return to OH, "the countenance of his face changed - he was at peace", the statement added. He and others freed from North Korea have said they were coached and coerced into giving confessions. The U.S. government accuses North Korea of using such detainees as political pawns.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States holds North Korea accountable for Warmbier's "unjust imprisonment" and demanded the release of three other USA citizens still held by Pyongyang - Korean-Americans Tony Kim, Kim Dong Chul and Kim Hak Song.
Warmbier was leaving North Korea on January 2, 2016, when he was detained at the airport. The Trump administration is also working with South Korea, its ally, to counter the North Korean threat.
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