USA student held prisoner by North Korea dies days after release

Otto Warmbier dies days after being returned from North Korea in a coma; family thank supporters for prayers

Otto Warmbier, 22, was serving 15 years hard labour, accused of attempting to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel.

CORNISH: President Trump spoke about Otto Warmbier's death this afternoon. He called North Korea a "brutal regime".

In a statement, they said: "It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home".

Early this month, North Korean diplomats at the United Nations urgently requested a face-to-face meeting with USA officials in NY.

Warmbier's family said he died Monday just days after returning from North Korea, when doctors described his state as "unresponsive wakefulness", or a persistent vegetative state.

Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary who spent nearly two years in a North Korean prison before he was released in November 2014, issued a statement asking people to pray for Warmbier's family.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Otto's family and friends, and all who loved him.

"This did not have to happen and should never happen again".

The student died yesterday after being released from the hermit state in a coma with severe brain damage after 17 months in captivity.

Richardson says he got involved in seeking Warbier's release more than a year ago at the invitation of the student's family and Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich (KAY'-sihk).

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THOMPSON: So a week prior to their son's landing, they learned that - at least, the official statement from North Korea was that he had contracted botulism and then, after taking a sleeping pill, fell into a coma.

The Warmbier's were fighting for his release. But they say, we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person.

Warmbier's release came amid mounting tensions with Washington following a series of missile tests by Pyongyang, focusing attention on an arms buildup that Pentagon chief Jim Mattis has dubbed "a clear and present danger to all".

"Some people may disagree with our approach to North Korea but any claim we have sinister intents is a mischaracterisation".

"North Korea sent him back to the United States before he died because more questions would have been raised about his death and the situation would have gotten worse if it had returned his dead body", said Cheong Seong-jang, an analyst at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea.

The family said he looked uncomfortable and anguished after arriving June 13 but his countenance later changed.

"He was peace. He was home, and we believe he could sense that", they said.

The death is likely to exacerbate relations between the United States and North Korea, whose leader, Kim Jong-un, has threatened to attack the United States with nuclear weapons in recent months.

In response, President Donald Trump issued a terse statement condemning North Korea, which is still holding three Americans hostage.

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