President Trump: 'Otto did not die in vain' - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Trump on Otto Warmbier: 'Otto did not die in vain'

Posted: Updated: Jun 12, 2018 6:56 AM
Otto Warmbier with Sassy, a friend's dog Otto Warmbier with Sassy, a friend's dog
University of Virginia student and Wyoming, Ohio, native Otto Warmbier was presented to reporters Feb. 29, 2016, in Pyongyang. University of Virginia student and Wyoming, Ohio, native Otto Warmbier was presented to reporters Feb. 29, 2016, in Pyongyang.
Parents of Otto Warmbier, Fred and Cindy Warmbier are acknowledged during the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. This is the first State of the Union address given by U.S. Pre Parents of Otto Warmbier, Fred and Cindy Warmbier are acknowledged during the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. This is the first State of the Union address given by U.S. Pre
Video

CINCINNATI - The death a year ago of Ohio's Otto Warmbier was the impetus for the extraordinary nuclear summit with Kim Jong Un, President Trump said Tuesday.

After the summit in Singapore, Trump defended his repeated praise of Kim despite his distressing record on human rights. But Trump said without Warmbier's ordeal in North Korea, the meeting may not have happened: "Otto did not die in vain."

Warmbier, 22, of Wyoming, Ohio, died June 19, 2017, six days after returning from North Korea, where he had been held as a prisoner of the state for 15 months. Warmbier was in desperate physical condition when he returned to Cincinnati in a state doctors at the University of Cincinnati called a state of "unresponsive wakefulness."

The Kim government said it released Warmbier as a humanitarian gesture because he had fallen ill from botulism poisoning and a sleeping pill. Warmbier's parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, have sued North Korea accusing the regime of torturing their son to death.

June 12: Analysis: When Trump met Kim, the handshake was more historic than the words

June 12: Trump says Kim will follow through on denuclearization, despite skepticism

Opinion: Don't let Donald Trump erase Otto Warmbier from the Singapore summit with Kim Jong Un

Several attempts were made to contact the Warmbiers this week, but calls were not returned.

Since Warmbier's death, rhetoric between the United States and North Korea grew more heated, especially as the Kim government tested its nuclear capability. But this year, the relations moved rapidly from what seemed like a dead stop to the pinnacle of diplomacy, a leadership summit.

After the meeting with Kim in Singapore, Trump said the issue of human rights in North Korea did come up during the talks, but briefly. The president also said he believes Kim wants to do the right thing.

Trump called Kim "very talented," noting his rise to power to become the third generation of his family to rule the nation often called the hermit kingdom. In the preparation for the summit, the president did not mention the suspicions about Kim ordering the assassination of his half-brother or having his uncle put before a firing squad.

Warmbier's death under mysterious circumstances devastated his family and riveted the nation. The University of Virginia college student had to be carried off the plane when he arrived at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati the night of June 13.

The doctors who examined him said Warmbier had suffered a brain injury that had only progressed. They said they could not substantiate the North Korean explanation of botulism poisoning, but they said Warmbier's brain had been damaged from lack of oxygen. Botulism poisoning can cause paralysis to the lungs.

May 10: Americans freed from North Korea greeted by Trump as they touch down on U.S. soil

April 26: Warmbier family sues North Korean government, alleging regime tortured and murdered their son Otto

Feb. 8: Pence arrives for Winter Olympics, sounds alarm about North Korea's record on human rights

The Warmbiers have not publicly commented on the summit between Trump and Kim. On Saturday, Vice President Pence said he had talked to Fred Warmbier to relay the same message from the president, Fox News reported.

"Today I assured his dad, as the president said two days ago, their beloved son, Otto Warmbier, will not have died in vain.'

The Warmbiers were guests of the president during the State of the Union address in January. A month later, Pence and Fred Warmbier met with North Korean defectors in South Korea ahead of the Olympic Games to keep international pressure on North Korea.

Contributing: The Associated Press. Follow Anne Saker on Twitter: @apsaker

Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 KFMB-TV. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.