McCain: North Korea ‘murdered’ American student Otto Warmbier

Gabby Kaufman
Reporter

Sen. John McCain said Monday North Korea ‘murdered’ Otto Warmbier, the American student who was imprisoned by the North Korean government for over a year and died days after returning to the United States in a coma.

“Let us state the facts plainly: Otto Warmbier, an American citizen, was murdered by the Kim Jong Un regime,” McCain said in a statement. The senator, who was captured and imprisoned in North Vietnam during the Vietnam War, is chairman of the Armed Services Committee. “In the final year of his life, he lived the nightmare in which the North Korean people have been trapped for 70 years: forced labor, mass starvation, systematic cruelty, torture and murder.”

Warmbier died Monday at age 22, six days after being medically evacuated from North Korea and returning to the United States in a coma, which North Korea claimed was caused when he contracted botulism and took a sleeping pill in March 2016. Doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where Warmbier was being treated, said his condition was consistent with a cardiopulmonary arrest and brain damage from lack of oxygen.

In a statement announcing his death, Warmbier’s family said, “It would be easy at a moment like this to focus on all that we lost — future time that won’t be spent with a warm, engaging, brilliant young man, whose curiosity and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds. But we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person.”

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“He was at home and we believe he could sense that,” they added.

President Trump reacted to Warmbier’s death at a meeting with technology executives at the White House, where he said “at least we got him home to be with his parents … even though he was in very tough condition.”

A follow-up statement from Trump read, “There is nothing more tragic for a parent than to lose a child in the prime of life.”

“The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim,” Trump added.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in also reacted to Warmbier’s death in an interview with CBS. Though Moon said North Korea bears “heavy responsibility” for Warmbier’s fate, he added, “We cannot know for sure that North Korea killed Mr. Warmbier.”

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