Otto Warmbier, student released by North Korea, dies

Family accuses totalitarian regime of torturing their son, who was heavily involved in Jewish campus life in the US.


Otto Warmbier, who was involved with an American Jewish student community, has died after being detained in North Korea for 15 months.

The totalitarian regime claimed the 22-year-old had been in a coma for a year after contracting botulism, but his family insist he was subjected to "awful torturous mistreatment".

Mr Warmbier, who was active at the Hillel at the University of Virginia and cared deeply about the Jewish community according to its rabbi, had been sentenced to 15 years of hard labour for stealing a propaganda poster.

But North Korea returned him to America last week on “humanitarian grounds”, after it emerged that he was severely ill.

A statement released by the family yesterday read: “It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home. Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died today at 2:20pm.”

The economics student from Cincinnati, Ohio, was on a student tour of North Korea last year when he was arrested and sentenced.

His family said that when he returned to America he had been "unable to speak, unable to see and unable to react to verbal commands".

The statement continued: "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 experienced today."

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