North Korea Says Otto Warmbier Isn't the Biggest Victim in His Case

It labels itself the "biggest victim" after the student's death.

Pyongyang insisted that Warmbier is a victim of former U.S. President Barack Obama's "strategic patience" policy with North Korea as he refused to have dialogue with Pyongyang. Medical tests performed once Warmbier was back in OH revealed that he had suffered severe neurological damage, possibly due to a heart attack - which would be consistent with the newer North Korean statement. He passed away at University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Ohio, on Monday.

The spokesman said that North Korea treated Warmbier appropriately during his imprisonment. Had his life not been derailed by the incarceration in North Korea, he would have likely graduated this spring. He was returned to his family last week and died shortly thereafter.

The spokesman said "groundless" speculation of torture and beatings could be refuted by American doctors who came to North Korea at the time of Warmbier's repatriation and "recognized that his health indicators like pulse, temperature, respiration and the examination result of the heart and lung were all normal".

"Although we had no reason at all to show mercy to such a criminal of the enemy state, we provided him with medical treatments and care with all sincerity on humanitarian basis until his return to the USA, considering that his health got worse", the agency quoted an unidentified Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency denied that North Korea cruelly treated or tortured Otto Warmbier and accused the United States and South Korea of a smear campaign that insulted what it called its "humanitarian" treatment of him. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

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Warmbier, a 22-year-old student from the University of Virginia, was traveling in North Korea when he was arrested in early 2016 for allegedly trying to steal a propaganda poster from a hotel.

The state said Warmbier slipped into a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill, and that he had to be resuscitated.

The KCNA news agency Friday said that Warmbier was treated in accordance with domestic law and said that allegations that he may have been tortured during almost 18 months in detention were "groundless".

"We reiterated to China that they have a diplomatic responsibility to exert much greater economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime if they want to prevent further escalation in the region", U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters at a joint news conference with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. "They said they understood".

"Because when I was organizing the trip, and I meet with the delegates here, you know, I addressed Otto Warmbier". He had been in a comatose state since at least April 2016, according to two MRI scans that were on a disc that arrived with the student from North Korea, Dr. Daniel Kanter told reporters earlier in June.

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