Published: Mon, June 26, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

North Korea denies mistreatment of USA captive Otto Warmbier

North Korea denies mistreatment of USA captive Otto Warmbier

In first official response to student's death, North Korea says Warmbier's passing after return to U.S. is a "mystery" On June 23, the North Korean government released its first official response to the death of Otto Warmbier, an American student detained by the North who returned to the United States in a coma and died just six days later.

"This college kid never should have been detained in the first place", said Portman, who met secretly with North Korean officials in NY last December to press for Warmbier's release. "Later that day, that's when we found out he was ill".

Speaking to Michael Strahan on "Good Morning America", the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year said that "good things" happened as a result of his trip.

"The fact that Warmbier died suddenly in less than a week after his return to the U.S.in his normal state of health indicators is a mystery to us as well", a spokesman, quoted by North Korean state-run media, said.

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Journalist Isaac Stone Fish uses the incident to describe the world of Western tourism in North Korea, in which carefree college students sometimes find themselves clashing with a closed and repressive state.

When asked about the the University of Virginia student's release and tragic death days later, Rodman said they were glad something good came from his visit.

On Friday, North Korea denied torturing him in the state's first reaction since Warmbier's passing.

"Dennis Rodman had nothing to do with Otto", he said.

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But Chris Volo, Rodman's agent, told Strahan, "I know being there had something to do with it..."

"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 indicators is a mystery to us as well", the spokesman said. You know, you going to see some poverty. Rodman didn't meet with Kim this time in North Korea but has met with the reclusive leader in the past. "They said they understood", said Volo. "We sing karaoke, it's all fun".

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from the Cincinnati area, told reporters that North Korea must be held accountable for Warmbier's detention and death.

Rodman said he was planning his next visit to Pyongyang for August and urged President Trump to get in touch with him and try to start a dialogue with Kim. In all likelihood, the only reason the Norks released him is that they realized they'd gone too far in their torment of him, and didn't want to deal with the consequences of his dying in their custody. He insisted North Korea has become "modernized" and "civilized" under Kim, to the delight of its "happy" people. "I see him crying at his sentencing hearing and think 'What did you expect?'"

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