Our hearts go out to the family of Otto Frederick Warmbier, the young American detained by North Korea in January 2016, who died today, just six days following his release from North Korean captivity. He was returned to the U.S. in a coma, which apparently he had been in since his sentencing in March 2016. “It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home,” the family said in a statement today.
Warmbier was accused of stealing a propaganda banner, and was sentenced last year to 15 years of hard labor. The U.S. Department of State negotiated his release, which, according to the North Koreans, was authorized “on humanitarian grounds.” In an interview with Tucker Carlson, Otto’s father Fred Warmbier said they received invaluable help from the Trump administration and special U.S. envoy Joseph Y. Yun, who interceded on their behalf. “He was very helpful to Cindy and I, and we are really thankful for him. We’re also thankful to [Secretary of State] Rex Tillerson and President Trump. They wanted Otto home, and Cindy and I believe they made this happen, so we’re thankful for that.”
Warmbier had no such praise for the Obama administration, which sat on its hands for the entire time Otto was incarcerated and counseled a “do nothing” approach. When asked about the Obama administration’s efforts, Warmbier said, “I think the results speak for themselves.” Following the kangaroo court’s verdict, the family said they heard nothing from or about their son for 15 months. But, all along, Otto was comatose and the North Koreans knew it.
We can only conclude the North Koreans inflicted the neurological damage he suffered and put him into that coma. That’s what the Stalinist hellhole does to prisoners.
North Korea claims Warmbier became sick with botulism shortly after being sentenced, but doctors say his coma was the result of “severe neurological injury.” In a public statement, Dr. Daniel Kantier of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where Otto was being treated, said it was likely caused by “cardiopulmonary arrest, where the blood supply to the brain is inadequate for a period of time resulting in the death of brain tissue.” Doctors did not speculate on how Warmbier sustained his injuries, but a New York Times article paraphrased “a senior administration official” saying that “the United States obtained intelligence reports in recent weeks indicating that Mr. Warmbier had been repeatedly beaten while in North Korean custody.”
Fred Warmbier told Carlson that his son became comatose almost immediately after his trial. “Apparently the day after he was sentenced he went into a coma, for some reason. I don’t have any particulars,” he said.
It is thus likely that torture began almost as soon as they could get their hands on him. The Warmbier family certainly believes he was tortured in prison and that torture was the cause of his death: “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.”
President Trump issued a statement after the 22-year-old student’s death:
Melania and I offer our deepest condolences to the family of Otto Warmbier on his untimely passing. 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.
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.
It needs to be said that communists and communism are the evolutionary endpoint to human depravity. I am never surprised by communist behavior, though frequently repulsed and often outraged — especially since some in our government apparently believe that it’s okay to treat them as equals, or in Obama’s case, even as superiors. But they are bottom-dwellers, the protoplasmic incarnation of human excrement. Witness what is going on today in our country: the congressional shooting, the violent Antifa attacks on Americans (many staged by our delightful Democratic Party), the relentless vilification of everything good about our great nation, the enthusiastic assistance to our enemies in Russia, China, and Iran, and so much more. You are witnessing communists on a leash.
North Korea is what happens when the leash is removed.
I know people who have traveled to North Korea. I tell them they are crazy. There is nothing on earth worse than a North Korean prison. The prison system has been described as a modern-day Auschwitz. Prisoners, mostly there for political purposes, are starved, raped, tortured, and murdered. If someone is jailed or executed for political dissidence, three generations of the family are punished as well, including children. One eyewitness described how a friend’s mother was executed for watching a James Bond movie. The Committee for Human Rights in Korea estimates about 200,000 political prisoners and forced laborers inhabit the prison camps, where 400,000 have died over the past 30 years.
The State Department recommends against travel to North Korea in stern, sobering terms:
The Department of State strongly warns U.S. citizens not to travel to North Korea/the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). U.S. citizens in the DPRK are at serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea’s system of law enforcement. This system imposes unduly harsh sentences for actions that would not be considered crimes in the United States and threatens U.S. citizen detainees with being treated in accordance with “wartime law of the DPRK.”
According to State, “[a]t least 16 U.S. citizens have been detained in North Korea in the past ten years. North Korean authorities have detained those who traveled independently and those who were part of organized tours.”
Three Americans remain in North Korean prisons – that we know of.