President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the previous administration failed Otto Warmbier, the 22-year-old student who died yesterday after he was released from North Korea.
Warmbier was held prisoner for 17 months in North Korea before he was returned to the United States in a vegetative state on June 13.
Trump said in no uncertain terms Tuesday that he believes his predecessor could have done more to prevent the tragedy.
‘It’s a disgrace what happened to Otto. It’s a total disgrace what happened to Otto. It should never, ever be allowed to happen,’ Trump told reporters during an Oval Office photo op. ‘He should have been brought home that same day. The results would have been a lot different.’
President Donald Trump suggested Tuesday that the previous administration failed Otto Warmbier, the 22-year-old student who died yesterday after he was released from North Korea
The boy’s father says Barack Obama’s government told the family to keep a ‘low profile’ while it worked for his release. It gave up on that strategy after the government changed hands and began doing media appearances.
Fred Warmbier, Otto’s father, credits a career foreign service officer in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Joeseph Yun, for the release of his son.
‘It is my understanding that Ambassador Yun and his team, at the direction of the president aggressively pursued resolution of the situation,’ he said at a June 15 news conference.
Trump said Tuesday that he had spoken with the Warmbier family and they are ‘incredible’ people.
‘But he should have been brought home a long time ago,’ the president added.
‘A lot of bad things happened. But at least we got him home to be with his parents, where they were so happy to see him, even though he was in very tough condition,’ Trump said at the top of a tech event.
Trump said Un’s government is a ‘brutal regime’ as he promised ‘we’ll be able to handle it.’
Warmbier was returned in a vegetative state to his family in Cincinnati, Ohio, after 17 months in North Korea, where he was arrested as a student for the alleged theft of a propaganda poster in January 2016.
‘Melania and I offer our deepest condolences to the family of Otto Warmbier on his untimely passing,’ a statement from the White House read.
‘There is nothing more tragic for a parent than to lose a child in the prime of life. Our thoughts and prayers are with Otto’s family and friends, and all who loved him.’
Donald Trump has offered his ‘deepest condolences to the family of Otto Warmbier following the 22-year-old’s death shortly after he was released from North Korea
The White House released this statement, which was then tweeted by Trump, on Monday evening
‘Otto’s fate deepens my Administration’s determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency.
‘The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim.’
The White House statement was released just hours after the 22-year-old’s family confirmed his death.
Warmbier was unable to communicate when he returned home, having suffered serious brain loss during his time behind bars.
Otto Warmbier (pictured in custody in Pyongyang last January) died Monday just days after being brought back to the United States in a coma from North Korea
In this video, taken days before he was arrested on January 2, 2016, the student is seen throwing snowballs with the group he was traveling with
The Warmbiers entirely blamed Otto’s death on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his regime.
‘The awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today,’ Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement.
Pyongyang said the 22-year-old was released on ‘humanitarian grounds’, and refused to say his treatment during his imprisonment was a factor in his shockingly deteriorated state.
Officials instead blamed his drastic state on a bout of food poisoning.
Otto’s father Fred said last week that his son had been ‘brutalised’ in North Korea as he spoke at a press conference in Cincinnati (pictured)
WARMBIER FAMILY STATEMENT
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 2:20pm.
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 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 on 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.
The family statement continued: ‘He looked very uncomfortable – almost anguished. Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day the countenance on 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.’
Otto was a student at the University of Virginia when he traveled in a group to Pyongyang.
As he attempted to leave the country to return home on January 2, he was arrested and detained at the airport.
North Korean authorities accused him of committing a hostile act against the country by stealing a propaganda poster from the hotel he was staying in.
He was kept there after giving a tearful press conference and was not seen again until last week when he was carried off a private medical plane upon his return to the US.
After returning to the US last week, Otto was taken straight to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center (pictured). He died there on Monday afternoon