Student freed by North Korea last week dies

By DAKE KANG, Associated Press
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In this Feb. 29, 2016, file photo, American student Otto Warmbier speaks as he is presented to reporters in Pyongyang, North Korea. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon, File)

WYOMING, Ohio - Otto Warmbier, the US student freed from North Korea last, has died, family says in a statement released by Ohio hospital.

After Warmbier's release, his father said his son was hospitalized in a coma after being "brutalized" by his captors.

Fred Warmbier told Fox News' Tucker Carlson on Wednesday from his Ohio home that his son, Otto, "is not in great shape right now."

"Otto has been terrorized and brutalized for 18 months by a pariah regime in North Korea," the father said in an interview.

The 22-year-old University of Virginia student was medically evacuated from North Korea and flown to Cincinnati late Tuesday. He was then taken by ambulance to a hospital.

Fred Warmbier said he does not know exactly what happened to his son during his detention. 

The public appearance will be at Wyoming High School, one of Ohio's top-rated schools. Warmbier graduated from there in 2013 as class salutatorian and had played soccer.

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said there should be an investigation into what happened to Warmbier leading to this "tragic situation."

Richardson, a Democrat, credited the Department of State with securing Warmbier's return from North Korea without any preconditions but said a forceful response from the U.S. government would be required "if it's determined that there was a cover-up and Otto's condition was not disclosed and he didn't get proper treatment."

City councilwoman Jenni McCauley said the tight-knit community was "thrilled" to have Warmbier back.

"Even though they're saddened by his condition, they're just glad for the family that he is home," McCauley said. "For any parent, this is their worst nightmare. ... We're hoping that he will be OK."

She called him "a fabulous young man" who was known as intelligent, personable and well-liked in school and in the community.

Warmbier was serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor in North Korea. He had tearfully confessed to trying to steal a propaganda banner while visiting. He was released last Tuesday, more than 17 months after being detained.

Such detentions in the totalitarian nation have added to tensions between Washington and Pyongyang. Three Americans remain in custody.

The U.S. government accuses North Korea of using such detainees as political pawns. North Korea accuses Washington and South Korea of sending spies to overthrow its government.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that his department was continuing "to have discussions" with North Korea about the release of the other three imprisoned American citizens.

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