North Korea denies torture, call itself 'biggest victim' in Otto Warmbier's death

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24 June, 2017

He passed away six days later. "I was in tears". He was flown back to the U.S.in a coma, after 17 months imprisonment, but North Korea deny any knowledge of how he became ill.

(CNN) - Days after the death of USA student Otto Warmbier following 17 months detention in North Korea, the country's state media claimed his death was a "mystery". "Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of Mr. Warmbier at this time of their tragic loss". Warmbier's death has raised red flags about Americans traveling to hostile nations. He died on Monday at a Cincinnati hospital and was buried on Thursday.

United States doctors said Mr Warmbier had suffered a severe neurological injury from an unknown cause.

Tillerson urged China to help crack down on illicit North Korean activities that fund its nuclear and missile programmes and said the Chinese had agreed their companies "should not do business" with sanctioned North Korean entities.

"The family's objection to an autopsy was honored and only an external examination was performed", the coroner's office said in a statement Tuesday night.

Warmbier was accused of stealing a propaganda poster.

Beijing, which wants resumed USA negotiations with North Korea, was hoping for "positive outcomes" from Wednesday's dialogue, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. Warmbier was scheduled to graduate this year.

"To see a young man go over there healthy and, (after) a minor act of mischief, come home dead basically... this goes beyond any kind of understanding of law and order, of humanity, of responsibility toward any human being", Mattis said.

Susan Thornton, the senior US diplomat for East Asia, said North Korea would get "top billing". "So you can always use American hostages as leverage". "It takes weeks to prepare such a test".

What doesn't go toward yachts, ski clubs and cars goes, of course, to North Korea's nuclear weapons pursuit, a project the regime has doggedly pursued despite pressure from the West to cease all nuclear missile testing.

"I think we should strongly consider it", Corker said.

In April, the Warmbier family chose to break their silence. South Korea said the women defected on their own, while North Korea claimed they were deceived and abducted to the South.

The Warmbiers added that they are "at peace" and "at home". The attendees included Ambassador Joseph Yun, the US special envoy who traveled to Pyongyang to bring Warmbier back.

"My organization [The Richardson Center] worked with the family, briefed them, tried to get Otto out", Richardson told ABC News.

The 22-year-old was medically evacuated to the United States last week with severe brain damage.

"He hasn't done a hard news interview like this before and he did a really great job".

The foreign ministry official denied that Warmbier was abused while in custody, condemning "groundless public opinion now circulating in the USA that he died of torture and beating during his reform through labour".

"I feel in a certain way I became part of their extended family", he said. "Being with Otto made life all the more lovely", Alex Vagonis, Warmbier's girlfriend, said.

Watch the full story on ABC News' 20/20 Friday, June 23, at 10 p.m. ET.


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