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Father of Otto Warmbier, who died after North Korean detention, to attend Olympic ceremony

Fred Warmbier will attend Friday's opening ceremony as Vice President Mike Pence's guest

    Cindy and Fred Warmbier are applauded during Donald Trump's State of the Union speech last week
    Cindy and Fred Warmbier are applauded during Donald Trump's State of the Union speech last week (Photo: Getty Images)

    The father of a Jewish student who died after his 15-month North Korean detention is to accompany US Vice President Mike Pence to the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

    Fred Warmbier, whose son Otto died shortly after his release by the North Korean regime in June 2017, will attend the Olympics Opening Ceremonies as Mr Pence’s guest this week, The Washington Post reported.

    The opening ceremony takes place in the South Korean city of PyeongChang on Friday.

    Otto was on a student tour of North Korea when he was arrested in January 2016 and charged with “hostile acts against the state”.

    He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labour after a show trial, and fell into a coma during his detention for reasons that remain unexplained.

    North Korea said he suffered an allergic reaction to food, but the Warmbier family said he had been tortured and abused.

    He died in the United States in June 2017, days after the North Korean regime authorised a medical evacuation.

    Fred Warmbier and his wife Cindy have praised President Donald Trump for securing their son’s return and criticised former president Barack Obama for failing to bring him back sooner.

    The Warmbiers were singled out by Mr Trump during his State of the Union address last week.

    “You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires truly us all,” Mr Trump told them as they sat in the audience with their younger children Austin and Greta.

    “Tonight, we pledge to honour Otto's memory with total American resolve.”

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