TOKYO — North Korea is criticizing Fred Warmbier’s visit to the Olympics in South Korea last week as a Trump Administration publicity stunt designed to embarrass the Kim regime during a time when the whole world would be watching.
The Trump administration was “kicking up a fuss” about North Korea and trying to “tarnish” its international image by talking about Otto Warmbier’s death, an unnamed official said in the statement published Friday by the North’s Korean Central News Agency.
“It is not accidental that there is an assessment coming from the U.S. that the present administration’s increased move of taking up the DPRK's ‘human rights’ issue amounts to an attempt for ‘regime change,’” the statement said.
Fred Warmbier, the suburban Cincinnati father whose college student son died last year following 17 months' of imprisonment in North Korea, said he accepted Vice President Mike Pence's invitation to join him for the opening of the Games so he could remind the world about the horrors of the Kim regime.
“I’m telling the truth about the regime’s treatment of my son. But guess what, they do this to countless other people,” Warmbier said in an interview with NBC News. “This isn't defiance. This is telling the truth. This is standing up and being the voice of Otto.”
Warmbier claims North Korea tortured his 21-year-son, Otto Warmbier, after he was arrested while on a tour of the country two years ago.
The Kim regime's statement insisted that Wyoming High graduate was “ in normal physical condition” when North Korea released him to the U.S. last year and questioned what the Americans had done to him.
The regime repeated Otto Warmbier was a “criminal” for trying to steal a poster from a wall in his hotel. The University of Virginia student lapsed into a coma after being tried, convicted and sentenced to 15 years' hard labor, the government said.
North Korea said Warmbier suffered food poisoning, then had an allergic reaction to the medicine he was given in detention.
University of Cincinnati doctors who treated Otto Warmbier in the short time he was UC Medical Center said Warmbier had severe brain damage, but they saw no signs of torture or botulism.
Otto Warmbier died in the hospital on June 19, 2017, six days after he was flown home.