ABC News(WASHINGTON) — President Trump called the death of Otto Warmbier, American student freed from North Korea, a “disgrace,” Tuesday.
“I think it’s a disgrace what happened to Otto,” Trump said during a pool spray alongside Ukraine’s president, adding that Warmbier should have been brought home sooner.
Many other politicians and public figures have also expressed dismay and outrage.
Warmbier, 22, passed away just days after he was returned home, following 17 months of detainment in North Korea. Doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center examined Warmbier last week upon his return to Ohio and reported that he had severe brain damage and was in a state of “unresponsive wakefulness.”
“It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home. Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died,” his parents Fred and Cindy Warmbier wrote Monday.
“Unfortunately, the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible.”
The family added that they are also “at peace” and “at home.”
Many politicians and public figures have responded to his parents’ announcement, offering their sympathies and condemning the actions of North Korea.
President Trump offered his “deepest” condolences to the family and condemned the “brutality” of the North Korean regime Monday. In comments at the start of a meeting with top tech CEOs.
“A lot of bad things happened but at least we got him home to be with his parents,” Trump said. “It’s a brutal regime and we’ll be able to handle it.”
In an interview with CBS News, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that while it’s not clear if North Korea killed Warmbier, they have “heavy responsibility.”
“This had happened while Mr. Warmbier was in the detention of North Korean authorities,” Moon Jae-in said Tuesday. “But I believe it is quite clear that they have a heavy responsibility in the process that led to Mr. Warmbier’s death.”
Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., took a different approach to the news, calling for a tourist travel ban to North Korea.
“Travel propaganda lures far too many people to North Korea,” Royce said. “The United States should ban tourist travel to North Korea.”
Reactions from politicians came quickly. Secretary Tillerson said in a statement that the U.S. holds North Korea accountable for Warmbier’s “unjust imprisonment.”
Vice President Pence
Karen & I are so saddened to hear this. We’re praying for Otto’s family tonight. A tragic example of North Korea’s disregard for human life. pic.twitter.com/XtqlCQCMSJ
— Vice President Pence (@VP) June 19, 2017
Sen. John McCain
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) June 19, 2017
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
Deeply saddened to hear of Otto Warmbier’s passing just days after returning home. May his family find strength & comfort in this dark time.
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) June 19, 2017
Sen. Marco Rubio
Otto Warmbier should never have been in jail for tearing down a stupid banner. And he most certainly should not have been murdered for it.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) June 19, 2017
The University of Virginia, the school Warmbier attended and would have graduated from this May, issued a statement Monday.
“It is with great sadness that we learned of Otto’s passing this afternoon,” University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan wrote. “Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with his family and friends during what has been an incredibly difficult time. He will be missed by all those who knew and loved him.”
Gov. of Ohio John Kasich
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) June 19, 2017
Lt. Governor Ralph Northam
As a father, my heart aches for the parents and friends of Otto Warmbier. Tonight Pam and I pray for Otto and all of his loved ones.
— Ralph Northam (@RalphNortham) June 19, 2017
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