Sen. John McCain of Arizona delivered a decisive statement after the death of Otto Warmbier, the American student who was imprisoned in North Korea for over a year, and said that the US “cannot and should not tolerate the murder of its citizens by hostile powers.”
“Let us state the facts plainly: Otto Warmbier, an American citizen, was murdered by the Kim Jong-un regime,” read a statement from McCain released Monday. “In the final year of his life, he lived the nightmare in which the North Korean people have been trapped for 70 years: forced labor, mass starvation, systematic cruelty, torture, and murder.”
“North Korea is threatening its neighbors, destabilizing the Asia-Pacific region, and rapidly developing the technology to strike the American homeland with nuclear weapons,” continued McCain. “Now it has escalated to brutalizing Americans, including three other citizens currently imprisoned in North Korea.”
Warmbier, who was detained and eventually convicted for the “hostile” act of stealing a propaganda poster at a hotel in 2016, returned home on June 13 after reportedly being in a coma for a year. During his last days, he was said to have been in a state of “unresponsive wakefulness,” and died less than a week later.
“It would be easy at a moment like this to focus on all that we lost – future time that won’t be spent with a warm, engaging, brilliant young man whose curiosity and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds,” read a Monday statement from the Warmbier family. “But we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person.”
McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Service Committee, has long been a vocal critic of the North Korean regime and has called for increased pressure on its leader, Kim Jong Un.