The parents of University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, who is imprisoned in North Korea, are pleading with President Trump to help them secure their son’s release. In a recent interview, they expressed frustration with the State Department, which they say has “absolutely not” assisted them in bringing Otto home.

“President Trump, I ask you, bring my son home,” Fred Warmbier told Fox News in his first public remarks since his son was detained over a year ago. “You can make a difference here.”

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Otto Warmbier of Wyoming had been on a tour of North Korea in January 2016 when he was arrested and given a 15-year sentence in one of the country’s labor prisons after being accused of committing a “hostile act” against the nation for allegedly attempting to to steal a political banner. His parents insist that neither the Obama nor Trump administrations have given any indication that their son would be returning in the near future. The Warmbiers were instead told to keep quiet about the situation, which experts say is standard protocol in such a case.

FILE – In this Feb. 29, 2016, file photo, American student Otto Warmbier speaks as Warmbier is presented to reporters in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea announced Warmbier’s detention Jan. 22, 2016, and the University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years in prison at hard labor after a televised confession that he tried to steal a propaganda banner. As President Donald Trump’s administration takes office one year later, there’s been little public word about what has happened to Warmbier. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon, File)

‘It’s your fault. That’s the message from them. They acted like we were ignorant basically for letting him go,” the Warmbeirs said of the State Department under former President Obama, adding that former Secretary of State John Kerry seemed “exasperated and overwhelmed with North Korea.”

State Department spokeswoman Julia Mason, however, insisted that the United States government is continuing to “actively work to secure his earliest possible release” and is in “close coordination” with the Swedish Embassy, which the U.S. relies on as a diplomatic channel to North Korea.

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Since the inauguration, the Warmbiers say that no one from the Trump administration has reached out to them about their son and that their only point of contact with the State Department is a low-level employee.

“No one’s reached out to us,” Fred Warmbeir said. “I would have hoped that somebody other than the desk person would have reached out and maybe given us some reassurances. But that doesn’t happen in our world.”

Carlin Becker About the author:
Carlin Becker is an Associate Content Editor at Rare. Follow her on Twitter @_carlbeck.
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