The parents of the late Otto Warmbier publicly addressed President Donald Trump after his historic Tuesday summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
What’s the background?
Warmbier, who was a student at the time, spent a year in a North Korean prison after he allegedly attempted to steal a North Korean propaganda poster during a visit to the country in 2016.
As a result of his alleged theft, he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor at a North Korean detention center.
After just a year of imprisonment, North Korean officials returned the 22-year-old Warmbier to the U.S. in June 2017 — in terrible condition.
North Korea has denied it mistreated or tortured Warmbier and said that he was dealt with according to domestic law and international standards.
In September, Warmbier’s parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, detailed their son’s gruesome injuries, saying that North Korea returned their son to the U.S. deaf, blind, and with a feeding tube.
“They destroyed him,” Cindy Warmbier said of North Korean officials.
“They purposely and intentionally injured Otto,” Fred Warmbier added. “They kidnapped Otto. They tortured him.”
What are Otto Warmbier’s parents saying now?
During a Tuesday news conference, Trump expressed his gratitude for Otto, and said that the summit would not have happened if it hadn’t been for the U.S. student.
“Otto Warmbier is a very special person and he will be for a very long time in my life. His parents are good friends of mine. I think without Otto, this would not have happened,” Trump said.
“Something happened, from that day,” the president continued. “It was a terrible thing. It was brutal. But a lot of people started to focus on what was going on, including North Korea.”
“Otto did not die in vain. He had a lot to do with us being here today,” he added.
After Trump’s remarks, Fred and Cindy issued a statement of their own.
“We appreciate President Trump’s recent comments about our family,” a joint statement from Otto’s parents read. “We are proud of Otto and miss him. Hopefully something positive can come from this.”