NEW YORK – The parents of Otto Warmbier, a U.S. student who died after being imprisoned by North Korea and released by the country in a coma in 2017, should receive $240,300 seized from a North Korean bank account, a federal judge ruled last week.
The amount would be a partial payment toward the more than $501 million Fred and Cindy Warmbier of Wyoming, Ohio, were awarded in 2018 by a federal judge in Washington, D.C.
The couple have claimed their college student son was tortured by North Korea after being convicted in 2016 of trying to steal a propaganda poster and imprisoned for months. The 22-year-old suffered severe brain damage and died shortly after being returned to the United States in a vegetative state in June 2017.
North Korea has denied that it tortured or cruelly treated the University of Virginia student and has called itself the “biggest victim” in his death while accusing Washington and Seoul of orchestrating a smear campaign.
The partial payment was ordered by a federal judge in New York, who has directed the state comptroller to give the Warmbiers the money that was seized from North Korea on the grounds it could be used for terrorism, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported Wednesday. Neither North Korea nor the North Korean bank from which the funds were seized responded to the legal action brought by the Warmbiers last March.
It’s unclear how much of the 2018 award has been paid to the Warmbiers.