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North Korea denies torturing American detainee

25 June 2017

USA college student Otto Warmbier died just days after returning to the United States after spending 17 months imprisoned in North Korea, but the country's state-run media believes the real victim in Warmbier's death has been overlooked.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he held North Korea responsible for the student's death.

SEOUL-North Korea said on Friday the death of USA university student Otto Warmbier soon after his return home was a mystery and dismissed accusations that he had died because of torture and beating during his captivity as "groundless".

They say he suffered a "severe neurological injury", the most likely cause of which was a cardiopulmonary arrest that had cut the blood supply to the brain.

Sentenced to hard labor for stealing a political poster from a North Korean hotel, the 22-year-old Warmbier was medically evacuated in a coma last week after almost 18 months in captivity.

His parents released a statement that said his death was the inevitable result of "the terrible torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans". He had been accused of stealing a propaganda poster and was serving a sentence of hard labour.

Pyongyang denies torturing USA student who died after release from North Korea
But the state-run Korean Central News Agency said Friday said that Warmbier was treated in accordance with domestic law. President Donald Trump blamed "the brutality of the North Korean regime" for Warmbier's death.

The KCNA said the North dealt with Mr Warmbier, 22, according to domestic law and global standards.

His family and others have blamed North Korea for his condition.

North Korea was already high on President Trump's agenda, the BBC's Steve Evans reports from Seoul.

As a hearse carried Warmbier's casket away, some mourners held up their fingers in the shape of a "W", for his name, according to AP.

The United States has demanded North Korea release three other USA citizens it holds in detention: missionary Kim Dong Chul and academics Tony Kim and Kim Hak Song.

The KCNA news agency Friday said that Warmbier was treated in accordance with domestic law and said that allegations that he may have been tortured during almost 18 months in detention were "groundless".

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Mourners arrive for the funeral of Otto Warmbier, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Wyoming, Ohio. "The impact he made is always going to last with people".

"Dennis Rodman had nothing to do with Otto returning to the United States", Warmbier tells "Good Morning America".

"While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out", Trump tweeted.

Strahan pushed back, saying Warmer was in ideal health before heading to North Korea but Rodman pivoted, repeating that he didn't know he was "sick" multiple times. "Later that day, that's when we found out he was ill, no one knew that".

A piece of legislation meant to curb American travel into North Korea got a boost in Congress on Thursday when House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce, a California Republican, agreed to move the bill through his committee.

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