- Otto Warmbier’s parents on Friday slammed President Donald Trump for siding with Kim Jong Un the subject of their son’s death.
- Trump met with Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam, this week.
- Trump during a press conference told reporters he’d confronted Kim about Warmbier’s death, and said the North Korean leader denied knowing about the maltreatment the US student as he was detained in the rogue state.
- Warmbier was detained in North Korea in 2016, and released back to the US after 17 months in captivity. He was in a vegetative state and died soon after.
- In a statement, Fred and Cindy Warmbier said, “We have been respectful during this summit process. Now we must speak out. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto.”
Otto Warmbier’s parents on Friday issued a sharp rebuke of President Donald Trump after the president accepted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s assertion that North Korean leadership had “no idea” about Warmbier’s terrible treatment while the American college student was a prisoner in the country.
In a statement, Fred and Cindy Warmbier said, “We have been respectful during this summit process. Now we must speak out. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto.”
“Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuses or lavish praise can change that,” they added.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from INSIDER.
Warmbier, a US student, was arrested during a visit to North Korea in 2016 after he was accused of attempting to steal a propaganda poster from his hotel. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, but released after 17 months. Warmbier was returned to the US in a vegetative state and died soon after.
Describing the condition Warmbier was in upon his release, Fred Warmbier during a September 2017 interview said his son was “blind” and “deaf” and that “it looked like someone had taken a pliers and rearranged his bottom teeth.” He also said his son was “jerking violently, making these inhuman sounds.”
Warmbier’s parents referred to the North Koreans as “terrorists.”
Trump was in Hanoi, Vietnam, earlier this week to hold a second round of face-to-face negotiations with Kim on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. After the talks ended early without a deal, Trump told reporters during a press conference he’d confronted Kim about Warmbier’s death.
“I don’t believe that he would have allowed that to happen,” Trump said of Kim. “It just wasn’t to his advantage to allow that to happen. Those prisons are rough, they’re rough places and bad things happened.”
The president added, “He tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, for example, on Thursday said, “I do not see the leader of North Korea as somebody who’s a friend. We know what happened to Otto. We know what this country has done. I support the president in his effort to denuclearize them, but I do not have a misbelief of who this leader is.”
North Korea, which Human Rights Watch describes as “among the world’s most repressive countries,” is notorious for its human rights abuses and brutal system of prison camps.