North Korea accuses US of exploiting student's death

US student Otto Warmbier. (File, AP)
US student Otto Warmbier. (File, AP)

Seoul - North Korea on Thursday accused the Trump administration of exploiting the death of an Ohio student who died soon after being released from detention in the Asian nation.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesperson as criticising the White House for using the death of Otto Warmbier for propaganda purposes against North Korea.

American student

"The fact that the US is employing even a dead person for the conspiracy campaign to fuel the international atmosphere of putting pressure on (North Korea) shows how vile and inveterate the hostility of the US policy-makers towards (North Korea) is," said the unidentified spokesperson. 

Warmbier, who was vacationing in North Korea, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labour in March 2016 for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster two months earlier. North Korea has said Warmbier fell into a coma that resulted from botulism and a sleeping pill.

The spokesperson reiterated North Korea's denial that it tortured the American student, who was detained for more than a year and died soon after his release to the US while still in a coma.

"We provided him with sincere medical care on humanitarian grounds in consideration of his failing health until he returned to the US," he said.

Debut speech

The statement expressed particular indignation that US President Donald Trump had criticised North Korea's top leader.

"The fact that the old lunatic Trump and his riff-raff slandered the sacred dignity of our supreme leadership, using bogus data full of falsehood and fabrications, only serves to redouble the surging hatred of our army and people towards the US," it said.

Trump referenced Warmbier's death in comments critical of North Korea during his debut speech to the UN General Assembly earlier this month.


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