Addressing press gathered at the White House, President Donald Trump made his first statement on the death of American citizen Otto Warmbier, who died days after returning to United States custody.
Warmbier had been in a coma for more than a year when he returned, which North Korea claimed was caused by botulism. Doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center told NBC News that Warmbier had extensive brain damage; his state of “unresponsive wakefulness” left him “not aware of his surroundings.”
In today’s statement, Trump said:
“It’s great to have you at the White House. I just wanted to pass on word that Otto Warmbier has just passed away. He spent a year and a half in North Korea. 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. But he just passed away a little while ago. It’s a brutal regime, and we’ll be able to handle it.”
Warmbier’s family directly linked their son’s death to his imprisonment in North Korea. A statement from the family reads in part:
“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.”