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One year ago, Otto Warmbier returned home to Cincinnati after being held captive in North Korea

Posted at 8:49 AM, Jun 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-14 08:49:09-04

CINCINNATI -- One year ago, the world watched as officials pulled Otto Warmbier off an airplane after being held captive in North Korea for 17 months.

The 22-year-old Wyoming native had been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea after officials there said he took a propaganda banner from a hotel in early 2016. Other members of the tour group have raised doubts about the theft story given by officials.

Warmbier died on June 19, six days after his return home. North Korean officials had claimed Warmbier contracted botulism and never woke up after taking a sleeping pill. Doctors in Cincinnati said he showed no signs of botulism when he arrived in Cincinnati, though they couldn't say exactly what caused the cardiac or respiratory arrest that led to his unresponsive condition.

President Donald Trump mentioned Warmbier’s death at his historical meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un this week, saying the meeting would have probably not happened had it not been for Warmbier. 

“I think without Otto, this would not have happened," Trump said. "Something happened from that day; It was a terrible thing, it was brutal, but a lot of people started to focus on what was going on, including North Korea. I really think that Otto is someone who did not die in vain … he had a lot to do with us being here today.”

Though many details of the meeting are unknown, Trump said the summit had “a lot to do” with Warmbier.

Warmbier's parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, said they "appreciate President Trump's recent comments about our family."

"We are proud of Otto and miss him," they said in a written statement. "Hopefully something positive can come from this."