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American Student Prisoner Released from North Korea Dies

Otto Warmbier, the 22-year-old American student who was jailed by North Korea for 18 months before returning home in a coma last week, died Monday at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, according to his family.

“It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home,” his family said. “Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died today at 2:20 p.m.”

“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,” the statement added. “But we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person.”

The family said that “When Otto returned to Cincinnati late on June 13th he was unable to speak, unable to see and unable to react to verbal commands. He looked very uncomfortable — almost anguished. 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.”

The family also expressed gratitude to those who prayed for his well-being.

“We thank everyone around the world who has kept him and our family in their thoughts and prayers. We are at peace and at home too,” the family said in the statement.

Doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said Warmbier suffered from injuries related to cardiopulmonary arrest and that he had suffered “extensive loss of brain tissue” and function.

“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,” the family’s statement said.

“The fact that he was taken and treated this way is horrible,” Fred Warmbier, Otto’s father, had said last week. “They’re brutal and they’re terroristic. We see the results of their actions, with Otto.”

Otto Warmbier was convicted in a one-hour trial of subversion after confessing that he tried to steal a political banner while visiting North Korea. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

North Korea sought to blame Warmbier’s condition on botulism, a claim his father rejected.

“There’s no excuse for the way the North Koreans treated our son and the way they have treated so many others,’ Fred Warmbier said.