Otto Warmbier′s parents rebuke Donald Trump′s ′praise′ of Kim Jong Un | News | DW | 02.03.2019
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Otto Warmbier's parents rebuke Donald Trump's 'praise' of Kim Jong Un

The parents of a US student who died after a 17-month detention in North Korea have blamed Kim Jong Un and his regime for their son's death. Trump sparked criticism when he said he believed Kim didn't know what happened.

Otto Warmbier's parents appeared to rebuke US President Donald Trump on Friday, saying that they believe North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's regime is responsible for their son's death.

Trump faced backlash after he said he believes Kim did not know what happened during Warmbier's 17-month detention in North Korea, saying he was taking Kim "at his word."

"Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity," Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement.

"No excuses or lavish praise can change that," they added.

Warmbier, a 22-year-old university student, died in June 2017 shortly after being sent back to the United States following months of detention in North Korea.

He was in a coma when he returned. A US federal judge ruled last year that Pyongyang was responsible for Warmbier's death and that he had suffered "barbaric mistreatment."

Cindy und Fred Warmbier (picture-alliance/AP/F. Franklin)

Warmbier's parents said Kim's regime was responsible for 'unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity'

Trump blames North Korea, doesn't mention Kim

Shortly after the statement was released by Warmbier's parents, Trump took to Twitter to say that he had been "misinterpreted."

"Remember, I got Otto out along with three others. The previous Administration did nothing, and he was taken on their watch," Trump said. "Of course I hold North Korea responsible for Otto's mistreatment and death."

In his tweets, Trump did not directly blame Kim for the US student's death.

Trump's initial remarks came during this week's nuclear summit with Kim in Vietnam — which abruptly ended without an agreement.

"He tells me he didn't know about it and I take him at his word," Trump told reporters. "I don't think that the top leadership knew about it."

It was not the first time that Trump has faced backlash for his comments about autocratic world leaders.

Last year, Trump did not accept CIA conclusions that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump also said he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin when he insisted that Moscow did not meddle in the 2016 US presidential election — also despite conclusions from US intelligence officials that it did.

rs/bw  (AP, AFP, dpa)

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