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US university student released by DPRK dies

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-06-20 07:28

Otto Frederick Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who has been detained in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea since early January, attends a news conference in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo released by Kyodo February 29, 2016. [Photo/REUTERS/Kyodo]

WASHINGTON - Otto Warmbier, a US college student who was released by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) less than a week ago, died on Monday, his parents said.

"It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home. Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died today at 2:20 p.m. (1820 GMT)," his parents Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement.

Warmbier's parents thanked the "wonderful professionals" at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and denounced the DPRK for mistreating their son.

In a statement, US President Donald Trump offered his condolences to the family of Otto Warmbier on his passing and condemned the "brutality" of the DPRK.

"Otto's fate deepens my Administration's determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency," Trump said.

Warmbier's parents have told US media that he was medically evacuated from the DPRK in a coma.

The DPRK confirmed his release in a report by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, saying he was sent back home "on humanitarian grounds."

The 22-year-old student from the University of Virginia has been in a state of coma for more than a year after contracting botulism soon after he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in a trial by the DPRK supreme court on March 16, 2016, according to US local media.

Warmbier was detained by the DPRK authorities at the Pyongyang International Airport on his way back home in January 2016 after he attempted to take a political slogan from a staff-only area in a hotel where he stayed during his tour to the country.

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