Otto Warmbier, the 22 year-old American student who was sequestrated and tortured in North Korea for 17 months, has died his family announced Monday.
Warmbier, a student the University of Virginia, was medically evacuated from North Korea and returned to home to Ohio last week after having been in a coma for a year.
Pyongyang said it had acted on humanitarian grounds.
In an emotional tribute to their son, the student’s family thanked the staff of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for treating him, but said “Unfortunately, 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.”
“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,” the family’s statement continues. “But we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person. You can tell from the outpouring of emotion from the communities that he touched — Wyoming, Ohio, and the University of Virginia to name just two — that the love for Otto went well beyond his immediate family.”
Doctors from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said last week that the student had suffered a “severe neurological injury” of unknown cause, which had led to extensive loss in all regions of his brain.
His parents explained that when Warmbier returned to Cincinnati, he was “unable to “see,” “speak” and “react to verbal commands.” The most probable cause, according to specialists, was cardiopulmonary arrest that deprived his brain of oxygen.
President Donald Trump condemned the “brutality” of Pyongyang’s regime and the treatment of Warmbier in an official statement.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 19, 2017
Warmbier was condemned to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea in March after confessing to trying to steal a propaganda poster from a hotel. He is believed to have slipped into a coma soon after .