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North Korea denies mistreatment of U.S. captive Otto Warmbier

North Korea denies mistreatment of U.S. captive Otto Warmbier

"This college kid never should have been detained in the first place", said Mr Portman, who previously revealed he met secretly with North Korean officials in NY last December to press for Mr Warmbier's release.

Susan Thornton, acting assistant U.S. secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said earlier this week that the USA was prepared to impose sanctions on Chinese firms suspected of maintaining ties to North Korea's ballistic missile and nuclear weapon programme.

There has been wide speculation that Warmbier suffered some form of physical abuse, which caused "severe damage to all regions of his brain" and ultimately led to his death. But it's unclear how he came to be in that state.

Appealing for peace, the 80-year-old said a third country should mediate the "hot" dispute between the United States and North Korea. South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in an interview with CBS television earlier this week that it was clear North Korea bears a heavy responsibility for Warmbier's death.

The NY Daily News speculates that this outburst was prompted mainly by Trump's stern criticism of North Korea for the murder of American hostage Otto Warmbier.

"The fact that Warmbier died suddenly in less than a week just after his return to the U.S. in his normal state of health indicators is a mystery to us as well", he said.

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Warmbier was detained in North Korea in January 2016 at the airport in Pyongyang after a short tour of the country.

North Korea's high court had sentenced Warmbier, a student at the University of Virginia, to 15 years in prison with hard labor after he allegedly tried to steal a political poster.

The spokesman said that Warmbier was provided with proper medical treatment, and questioned why he died so soon after returning to the US. He was released a week later.

President Donald Trump slammed Warmbier's detention and eventual death as "a total disgrace".

"China's forces have long withdrawn from the peninsula", the Global Times writes.

Meanwhile, funeral services were held for Otto Warmbier in the auditorium of Wyoming High School in his hometown, as reported by USA Today. A spokesman for the family said this week that they chose not to disclose his Judaism during negotiations for his release so as not to antagonize North Korea.

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"I was just so happy to see the kid released", Rodman said.

The statement issued by North Korea's foreign ministry was aimed at defending the hermit nation against the accusation of torturing Otto Warmbier.

The spokesman said that Warmbier was released on humanitarian grounds after repeated requests from the current administration but that it had been repaid with criticism that represented a "frontal challenge".

The spokesman said it was a "mystery" as to why Mr Warmbier died days after returning home, but compared his death to the case of another American detainee, Evan Hunziker.

North Korea's statement mentioned that it showed mercy to a criminal who was the enemy of the state, even though there was no need to do so.

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