President Donald Trump suggested on Tuesday that former President Barack Obama’s policy on North Korean relations caused Otto Warmbier to die.

Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

Trump calls Otto Warmbier’s death a ‘disgrace,’ suggests blame lies with Obama

'He should have been brought home a long time ago,' Trump said.

Jun 20, 2017, 12:48 pm*

Tech

 

Andrew Wyrich

President Donald Trump suggested on Tuesday that former President Barack Obama’s policy on North Korean relations caused Otto Warmbier to die.

Warmbier, the University of Virginia student who was returned to the United States with severe injuries, was captured by North Korean officials last year for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster while on a trip in the authoritarian country.

Warmbier died on Monday. He was 22.

While Trump did not mention Obama by name, he clearly placed the blame for Warmbier’s death on the previous administration.

“It’s a total disgrace what happened to Otto,” Trump said. “That should never, ever be allowed to happen, and frankly if he were brought home sooner I think the result would have been a lot different. He should have been brought home that same day—the result would have been a lot different. … He should have been brought home a long time ago.”

Trump made the comments in the Oval Office during a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Warmbier was visiting North Korea as part of a five-day tour when he was detained at an airport in Pyongyang for allegedly stealing the poster from a hotel. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

Soon after his imprisonment, Warmbier fell into a coma. North Korea told the family it was due to him contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill. The family believes he was tortured. When Warmbier was returned to the United States, he had severe brain damage and was in a state of unresponsive awakeness, according to doctors who treated him.

Fred Warmbier, Otto’s father, praised President Trump after his son’s release. When asked if he believed the Obama administration had adequately attempted to secure Otto’s release, the elder Warmbier responded: “I think the results speak for themselves.”

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*First Published: Jun 20, 2017, 12:42 pm