Otto Warmbier, the young U.S. citizen released by North Korea last week to the Department of State, was not healthy when he arrived home and sadly, he passed away Monday afternoon. North Korea insists that Warmbier, who was released in a comatose state stemming from brain damage, was trying to overthrow the regime and that he was “not an ordinary citizen.”
North Korean officials said Warmbier’s condition upon release was caused by a combination of botulism and a sleeping pill. Doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where Warmbier was being treated, say he suffered extensive brain damage, possibly due to cardiopulmonary arrest, creating a lack of oxygen to his brain. His doctors said they hadn’t found any indications of botulism, a disease caused by a toxin that damages nerves.
U.S. Intelligence reports indicated Warmbier may have received harsh treatment and physical abuse while in captivity. Cardiopulmonary arrest can be caused by respiratory failure, which, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, can be the result of an overdose or a chest injury.
While the cause of Warmbier’s former condition can only be speculated on, North Korea has received criticism over his health upon realease, as well as U.S. claims of mistreatment. Apparently in response, Pyongyang asserts Warmbier was an enemy of the state, not an innocent college student on holiday who happened to find himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
According to Kim Kwang-hak, a researcher at the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s Institute for American Studies, Warmbier “committed crimes against the government of DPRK to realize the regime change and the regime collapse of the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea].”
In May, the North Korean state media reported, “ DPRK will detect and frustrate every anti-DPRK plot of the dishonest hostile elements and ruthlessly punish the criminals and thus reliably defend its state and social system.”
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