Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
USA | By Kelli Rowe

Otto Warmbier, American Student Detained in North Korea For 17 Months, Dies


US President Donald Trump denounced North Korea as "a brutal regime" after a 22-year-old American university student held prisoner by Pyongyang for over a year before being returned in comatose condition died on Monday.

Young Pioneer Tours, the China-based travel agency, in a Facebook post, said that it has been "struggling to process the result" of Warmbier's detention.

Otto Warmbier was arrested in North Korea during a sightseeing tour past year.

In an interview with CBS News, Mr Moon said that while "we can not know for sure that North Korea killed Mr Warmbier ..."

The University of Virginia student's father, Fred Warmbier, said last week that his son had been "brutalized and terrorized 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".

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Just last month, North Korea said it had a sovereign right to "ruthlessly punish" any USA citizen detained for crimes against the state.

Trump said he had spoken with Warmbier's parents, telling reporters in the Oval Office that it was "incredible what they've gone through".

Three Americans remain held in North Korea.

"Working with such a country, we must achieve the goal of the complete dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear program", Moon said.

"The US once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim", he added. Pyongyang agreed to release the U.S. national on humanitarian grounds after he served more than one year of his sentence and he was returned to the United States on June 13.

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He was arrested at Pyongyang International Airport days later after he tried to leave the country, with North Korea announcing it would be holding him for a "hostile act".

The South Korean government meanwhile pledged to make every effort for the return of three other U.S. citizens, who are ethnic Koreans, and six South Koreans, who remain in custody in North Korea. Medical experts in Warmbier's hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, said that the student was suffering serious brain damage.

They questioned the botulism theory as the cause of the coma.

Speaking from the White House Trump said: "He spent a year and half in North Korea, a lot of bad things happened, but at least we got him home to be with his parents". He was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years in prison with hard labor.

It is believed that North Korea has been using the detentions as a bargaining chip in its negotiations with Washington.

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North Korea has claimed Warmbier fell into a coma soon after he was sentenced past year, saying he had contracted botulism and been given a sleeping pill.

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