The U.S. student released from North Korea last week, has passed away, his family have confirmed.
Otto Warmbier was held in captivity for 15 months after being sentenced to 15 years of hard labour for attempting to steal a propaganda poster from a hotel.
Warmbier was released from the secretive state, but it emerged that he’d been in a coma for over a year.
The 22-year-old’s family has confirmed that he has now passed away.
The statement said:
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 2:20 p.m.
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.
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.
We would like to thank the wonderful professionals at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who did everything they could for Otto. 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.
When Otto returned to Cincinnati late on June 13th he was unable to speak, unable to see and unable to react to verbal commands. He looked very uncomfortable – almost anguished. Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day the countenance of his face changed – he was at peace. He was home and we believe he could sense that.
We thank everyone around the world who has kept him and our family in their thoughts and prayers. We are at peace and at home too.
North Korea claimed it was botulism and a sleeping pill that led to Warmbier falling into a coma, but this is being disputed by U.S. doctors.
Heartbreaking statement: 22-year-old Otto Warmbier, the U.S. student released from North Korea last week, has passed away, his family says. pic.twitter.com/Oh2KPshWau
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 19, 2017
As the BBC reports, Warmbier confessed to his alleged crimes against North Korea a month after being arrested in January 2016.
Warmbier tearfully stated at a news conference at the time that he’d taken the poster as a ‘trophy’ for an American church.
The aim of my task was to harm the motivation and work ethic of the Korean people.
Foreign detainees held in the secretive state have previously recanted confessions citing that they were originally made under duress.
We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Otto Warmbier, a remarkable young Ohioan: https://t.co/qSGnPcJQra
— Rob Portman (@senrobportman) June 19, 2017
Warmbier’s death is likely to have a negative effect on the already heavily strained relationship between Washington and Pyongyang.
U.S. Senator Rob Portman issued the following statement on the student’s passing:
Otto Warmbier was such a promising young man. He was kind, generous and accomplished. He had all the talent you could ever ask for and a bright future ahead of him. His passing today is a loss for Ohio and for all of us. Jane and I are lifting up the Warmbier family in our prayers at this difficult time, and we are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of this remarkable young Ohioan.