North Korea Declares Itself ‘Biggest Victim’ of US College Student Otto Warmbier’s Death

A handout photo made available by the Warmbier family showing a visitor signing the condolence book during the funeral service of Otto Warmbier in Wyoming, Ohio, USA, 22 June 2017. Photo: Warmbier Family/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

  • North Korea has claimed to have provided US college student Otto Warmbier with proper medical treatment.
  • Warmbier died earlier this week after 17 months in North Korean captivity, seemingly as a result of being brutalized during that time.
  • North Korean Foreign Ministry’s statement is the country’s first reaction of Warmbier’s death.
  • North Korea says it did not have to provide medical treatment to a “criminal of an enemy state.
  • It has somehow presented itself as the victim in the wake of Warmbier’s passing.

The regime of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has alleged that it provided medical treatment and care “with all sincerity” to US college student Otto Warmbier who recently passed away after spending 17 months in North Korean captivity.

North Korea’s regime has also declared itself to be the biggest victim of Warmbier’s death.

Warmbier, the 22-year-old University of Virginia student, who was recently repatriated in a so called vegetative state by the regime of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, passed away on Monday.

Warmbier’s family has blamed his death on the “awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans.”

Last year, Otto Warmbier, then a 21-year-old University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in prison by North Korea after he confessed to trying to steal a propaganda banner from a hotel.

Warmbier was released by the North Korean regime “on humanitarian grounds” on June 13, 2017, in a condition of “unresponsive wakefulness”, also known as persistent vegetative state.

He was found to have suffered significant brain damage during his imprisonment, and even though the Kim Jong-un regime claimed he fell into a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill in March 2016, US doctors have found no evidence of the illness.

Before his release, Otto Warmbier was one of the total of four Americans detained by North Korea, who included two recently arrested Korean-American university professors.

Since 2009, over 10 US citizens have been detained in North Korea on charges of anti-state acts and other unspecified crimes. The widespread view has been that Pyongyang uses the detentions of Americans as bargaining chips in its negotiations with Washington.

In February 2017, the North Korean regime committed the murder of its leader Kim Jong-un’s estranged half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, with a banned chemical weapon, the VX nerve agent, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, according to Malaysia’s auhtorities.

In the latest of its constant ballistic missile provocations, in early June, North Korea fired several anti-ship cruise missiles.

There have been reports that North Korea has been bracing for a preemptive US missile strike similar to the missile strike on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in response to the April 4 attack with chemical weapons.

Mourners carry the coffin of Otto Warmbier during his fueral in Wyoming, Massachusetts, USA, 22 June 2017. Photo: Mark Lyons/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

North Korea the ‘Victim’

US college student Otto Warmbier was provided with “medical treatment and care with all sincerity” during his time in North Korea, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday, seeking to defend the regime from international accusations over Warmbier’s alleged brutal treatment in captivity, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

In its statement, even after his untimely death, North Korea’s government still continues to call Warmbier a “criminal of an enemy state”.

“Although we had no reason at all to show mercy to such a criminal of the enemy state, we provided him with medical treatment and care with all sincerity on a humanitarian basis until his return to the U.S., considering that his health got worse,” read the statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

It claimed that his sudden death is a “mystery” to North Korea as his health indicators were “normal” when he was brought home.

While the North Korean statement did not address Warmbier’s father who insisted that his son was “brutalized and terrorized” while he was in captivity.

The statement marked North Korea’s first official reaction to Warmbier’s death on Monday. North Korea previously released a short dispatch which said it released the US college student on humanitarian grounds.

North Korea reportedly claimed that he fell ill from botulism sometime after his trial in March 2016 and has been in a coma after taking a sleeping pill.

Pyongyang insisted that Warmbier is a victim of former US President Barack Obama’s “strategic patience” policy with North Korea as he refused to have dialogue with Pyongyang.

“To make it clear, we are the biggest victim of this incident and there would be no more foolish judgment than to think we do not know how to calculate gains and losses,” concludes the North Korean statement on Otto Warmbier’s death.

In addition to the three more Americans, North Korea also holds in captivity six South Koreans, including three missionaries, and one Canadian pastor.

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