The Daily Mail has obtained the final photographs and video of Otto Warmbier in North Korea prior to his arrest. In the images, Warmbier is shown mingling with locals, drinking beer and goofing around with the other students in his tour group just before he was detained for stealing a propaganda poster and imprisoned for 17 months.
Warmbier, 22, died Monday at a Cincinnati hospital after being returned to the U.S. on June 13 in a vegetative state. The North Koreans classified his release as “humanitarian.”
The photos of Warmbier in North Korea show him mischievously throwing snowballs with portraits of dictator Kim Jong Un in the background and posing with members of his tour group. Other photographs show him eating in a restaurant and socializing on the group’s tour bus on New Year’s Eve.
Warmbier appears happy in the video and photographs, and certainly oblivious to the fate he would experience after he was arrested in the Pyongyang Airport as he was on his way home on January 2, 2016 for theft of a propaganda poster.
Grainy surveillance footage captured a man ripping down the poster. Officials in North Korea accused Warmbier of stealing it, calling the alleged theft a hostile act on the country.
According to The Daily Mail, friends who were with Warmbier on the trip claim that he was in bed when the alleged theft occurred.
“He was in bed the night in question, and the next morning we had an early departure from the airport. He was in a good mood that morning.
“The poster story didn’t arise until a few weeks later. The footage North Korea released was grainy, and only showed someone taking it down, and not even leaving with it,” said a member of the group who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“Irregardless, the punishment never fit the crime, and now it is even more so. The cruel, harsh and barbaric North Korean regime murdered an innocent 22-year old American student, and more importantly our dear friend,’ the group member said.
Members of the tour group remembered Otto by his “laugh, his infectious smile, and his ability to love everyone.”
In a Monday interview with The Washington Post, Danny Gratton, Warmbier’s roommate in the hotel, described the arrest at Pyongyang Airport.
“No words were spoken,” Gratton said. “Two guards just came over and simply tapped Otto on the shoulder and led him away. I just said kind of quite nervously, ‘Well, that’s the last we’ll see of you.’ There’s a great irony in those words.”
See the rest of the photos and videos here at Daily Mail.
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