Otto Warmbier, the American student who was in a coma after his release from captivity in North Korea, has died, his family said in a statement.
“It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home,” read a statement signed by his parents, Fred and Cindy. “Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day of the countenance of his face changed — he was at peace,” they wrote. “He was home and we believe he could sense that.”
The North Korean government said the University of Virginia student, who was held for 17 months, fell into a coma after contracting botulism and ingesting a sleeping pill. But doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center have disputed this assessment and said there was “no evidence” of “active botulism.”
North Korea detained Warmbier in January 2016 after he was accused of a “hostile act” while on a group tour of the reclusive and rogue state. Warmbier was accused of stealing a poster at his hotel in Pyongyang, and after a short trial, Warmbier read a prepared statement and cried. He was sentenced to 15 years of prison and hard labor. Read more