McCain: Kim Regime Murdered Otto Warmbier
US might ban travel to North Korea
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2017 4:08 AM CDT
Updated Jun 20, 2017 6:37 AM CDT
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In this Feb. 29, 2016, photo, American student Otto Warmbier cries while speaking to reporters in Pyongyang, North Korea.   (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)
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(Newser) – Otto Warmbier is dead less than a week after returning to the US from North Korea, and lawmakers including Sen. John McCain say Pyongyang must be held accountable. The 22-year-old American, who spent 17 months in detention in North Korea, "was murdered by the Kim Jong Un regime," McCain said in a statement 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." The US, McCain said, "cannot and should not tolerate the murder of its citizens by hostile powers." The latest:

  • The death could cause lawmakers to ban American tourists from visiting North Korea, the Washington Post reports. The bipartisan North Korea Travel Control Act in the House would require Americans who want to visit the country to obtain a license, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has suggested an executive order might ban travel to North Korea.

  • "There is nothing more tragic for a parent than to lose a child in the prime of life," President Trump said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Otto’s family and friends, and all who loved him." Trump said the death deepens his administration's "determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency."
  • Doctors in Cincinnati say Warmbier apparently suffered a "severe neurological injury" soon after he was convicted of trying to steal a propaganda poster last year, but they have been unable to determine what caused the injury, the New York Times reports.
  • The China-based Young Pioneer Tours company, which brought Warmbier to China in early 2016, says it will no longer accept American tourists. "The way his detention was handled was appalling, and a tragedy like this must never be repeated," the company said in an email to USA Today.
  • Young Pioneer Tours advertises "budget travel to destinations your mother would rather you stayed away from." Former customers tell Consumer Affairs that Gareth Johnson, its British founder, drank heavily and could be seen bribing border guards when he led tours to North Korea.
  • In Warmbier's hometown of Wyoming, a Cincinnati suburb, the blue-and-white ribbons put up to welcome him home are now there in remembrance, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. "We salute the entire Warmbier family, who has faced this unbelievable ordeal with the utmost grace and dignity," Councilwoman Jenni McCauley said.
  • The AP reports that former US Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, who spent more than a year trying to arrange Warmbier's release, says he is saddened and angered by the death, which he says could be a "crime against humanity."
  • The Guardian looks at the cases of the three American citizens still detained in North Korean prisons.

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