Otto Frederick Warmbier

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Otto Frederick Warmbier

Hebrew: עמית
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, United States
Death: June 19, 2017 (22)
Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, United States (Tortured by the DPRK)
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About Otto Frederick Warmbier

http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/19/politics/otto-warmbier-dies/index.html

American college student Otto Warmbier only intended to spend five days sightseeing in North Korea in 2016.

Instead, he spent 17 months there in detention where his family believes he was tortured into a vegetative state. On Monday, less than a week after returning to the United States with severe brain damage, his family announced Warmbier had "completed his journey home." The 22-year-old died Monday afternoon in Cincinnati, Ohio, with his family at his side.

"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," his family said. "But we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person."

The student's death elicited strong repudiations of the regime from the highest levels of the American government. The news could lead the US to take a tougher line on China, the hermit regime's closest ally, as the two superpowers begin high level talks this week. It also prompted the tour group that facilitated Warmbier's visit to end trips to North Korea for Americans.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who helped push for Warmbier's release, said the United States holds North Korea "accountable" for an unjust imprisonment.

The North Korean government said he fell into a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill in March 2016. But US doctors said they found no evidence of the illness.

"Let us state the facts plainly: Otto Warmbier, an American citizen, was murdered by the Kim Jong Un regime," said US Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.

President Donald Trump condemned the "brutal regime" and lamented the loss of a young man "in the prime of life."

"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."

South Korean President Moon Jae-in sent his condolences to Warmbier's family, as well as a letter, the presidential spokesman confirmed.

Warmbier had not spoken or moved in any purposeful way since his return, a condition his doctors called "unresponsive wakefulness" also known as persistent vegetative state. He had suffered significant brain damage during his imprisonment.

The family thanked the staff at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for doing everything they could for their son in his final days.

"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."

Otto Warmbier was a University of Virginia student when he was detained in January 2016. He had signed up for a trip to North Korea with Young Pioneer Tours travel group. It was to be a brief stay followed by a visit to Beijing.

But as he tried to depart from Pyongyang's airport, he was stopped in security.

According to the North Korean government, Warmbier was detained because he had stolen a political poster from a restricted floor in his hotel. The next time the world saw Warmbier he was distraught, breaking down in front of Korean journalists in a video North Korea released in February 2016.

He admitted to the crime and begged for forgiveness. He pleaded to be released. Instead, he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

His death led Young Pioneer Tours to announce it would no longer offer US citizens trips to North Korea. The group said it was denied requests to meet Warmbier or anyone who'd been in contact with him in Pyongyang, only receiving assurances that he was fine.

"The devastating loss of Otto Warmbier's life has led us to reconsider our position on accepting American tourists. There had not been any previous detainment in North Korea that has ended with such tragic finality and we have been struggling to process the result. Now, the assessment of risk for Americans visiting North Korea has become too high."

Kenneth Bae, a US citizen who was detained by North Korea for 735 days before his release in 2014, described Warmbier's death as an "outrage" and a "tragedy."

"We plead with the US government, the international community, and leadership in North Korea to value human lives. Every life is important -- Otto's life, lives of the American detainees, and the lives of each person in North Korea," Bae said.

"I pray that these innocent people suffering in North Korea are not forgotten in this high-stakes game of weapons, sanctions, and international diplomacy," he added.

Warmbier's father last week praised the Trump administration for bringing his son home and criticized the Obama administration's approach, saying the family heeded the US government's initial advice to take a low profile "without result."

After being briefed on the situation, Trump directed Tillerson to take appropriate measures to secure the release of American hostages there, a senior State Department official told CNN. Tillerson began the effort and routinely updated the President.

Then, on June 6, State Department special representative Joseph Yun learned of Warmbier's deteriorating health in a meeting with North Korean UN Mission Ambassador Pak Kil-yon in New York City, the senior State Department official said.

Yun went to North Korea on June 12 with a medical team to secure Warmbier's release, the official said. Yun and two doctors visited Warmbier that morning, marking the first time the United States was able to confirm his status since he was sentenced in March 2016. Yun immediately demanded that Warmbier be released on humanitarian grounds and arrangements were made for him to leave.

He was evacuated the next day and reunited with his family in Cincinnati.

"When Otto returned to Cincinnati late on June 13 he was unable to speak, unable to see and unable to react to verbal commands. He looked very uncomfortable -- almost anguished," the family's statement said.

"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."

CNN's Kevin Liptak, Elise Labott, Zahra Ullah and Miguel Marquez contributed to this report.

Otto Warmbier, a Jewish American college student released last week by North Korea while in a coma, died Monday afternoon at the age of 22.

Otto Warmbier, an American college student, was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor in North Korea upon his convicted for subversion after he tearfully confessed he had tried to steal a propaganda banner. He was suddenly released by North Korea in a coma last week, but died Monday afternoon just days after his release. He was 22.

The family announced his death in a statement released by UC Health Systems, saying, “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.”

The family thanked the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for treating him but said, “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.”


They said they were choosing to focus on the time they were given with their “warm, engaging, brilliant” son instead of focusing on what they had lost.

The University of Virginia student was held for more than 17 months and medically evacuated from North Korea last week. Doctors said he returned with severe brain damage, but it wasn’t clear what caused it.

Parents Fred and Cindy Warmbier told The Associated Press in a statement the day of his release that they wanted “the world to know how we and our son have been brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime” and expressed relief he had been returned to “finally be with people who love him.”

He was taken by Medivac to Cincinnati, where he grew up in suburban Wyoming. He was salutatorian of his 2013 class at the highly rated high school, and was on the soccer team among other activities.

While studying at the University of Virginia, Warmbier was active in Hillel, a Jewish organization on campus.

Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported that Warmbier’s connection to the Jewish community began with a 2014 Birthright mission to Israel, where he received a Hebrew name while hiking up Masada, and continued upon his return to campus where he celebrated Shabbat and Jewish holidays, and even led a Passover Seder for other students.

Warmbier also connected with Israel, according to JTA, meeting with a Tel Aviv councilman about environmentalism in the Jewish state.

Political Fallout

Ohio’s U.S. senators sharply criticized North Korea soon after his release.

Republican Sen. Rob Portman of the Cincinnati area said North Korea should be “universally condemned for its abhorrent behavior.” Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Cleveland said the country’s “despicable actions … must be condemned.” Portman added that the Warmbiers have “had to endure more than any family should have to bear.”

Three Americans remain held in North Korea. The U.S. government accuses North Korea of using such detainees as political pawns. North Korea accuses Washington and South Korea of sending spies to overthrow its government.

At the time of Warmbier’s release, a White House official said Joseph Yun, the U.S. envoy on North Korea, had met with North Korean foreign ministry representatives in Norway the previous month. Such direct consultations between the two governments are rare because they don’t have formal diplomatic relations.

At the meeting, North Korea agreed that Swedish diplomats could visit all four American detainees. Yun learned about Warmbier’s condition in a meeting a week before the release the North Korean ambassador at the U.N. in New York. Yun then dispatched to North Korea and visited Warmbier June 12 with two doctors and demanded his release on humanitarian grounds.

http://www.emol.com/noticias/Internacional/2017/09/28/877137/Corea-...

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Otto Frederick Warmbier's Timeline

1994
December 12, 1994
Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, United States
2017
June 19, 2017
Age 22
Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, United States