Published: Mon, June 26, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

North Korea says it kept Warmbier alive, blames Obama for his death

North Korea says it kept Warmbier alive, blames Obama for his death

North Korea released him last week for what it described as humanitarian reasons and he died Monday in a USA hospital.

The family announced Warmbier's death in a statement, saying that 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 received today".

American doctors say he suffered brain damage and was in a state of "unresponsive wakefulness".

The KCNA said the North dealt with Mr Warmbier, 22, according to domestic law and global standards. He had spent 17 months in captivity after being arrested in early 2016 for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster from his Pyongyang hotel.

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He returned home to Cincinnati, Ohio, on June 13 in a coma after being "brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime", his family said at the time.

He said North Korea's treatment of Warmbier demonstrated "a basic disregard for human rights, for human dignity". Warmbier graduated from the school in the Cincinnati suburb of Wyoming as salutatorian in 2013.

North Korea believes that the young man was "a victim of the policy of strategic patience" under the former US President Barack Obama, which refused to hold talks with Pyongyang and never requested his return, the statement said.

The spokesman, who was not named, said that USA doctors who travelled to North Korea to carry out Warmbier's medical evacuation had recognised that he had been given medical treatment and, despite his serious medical condition, had been sent back to the United States alive. His parents decided against an autopsy, and the funeral went ahead with 2,500 mourners on Thursday.

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"The smear campaign against DPRK staged in the USA compels us to make firm determination that humanitarianism and benevolence for the enemy are a taboo and we should further sharpen the blade of law", the spokesman added, referring to North Korea by its formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

He is the first American to die after being released from North Korean custody in half a century.

The casket of Otto Warmbier is carried from Wyoming High School after his funeral, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Wyoming, Ohio.

"[It] compels us to make firm determination that. we should further sharpen the blade of law", he said, adding "the USA should ponder over the consequences to be entailed from its reckless and rash act".

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US President Donald Trump has condemned the "brutality" of the North Korean regime and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson vowed to hold Pyongyang accountable for the death.

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