Washington, June 20: After a 22-year-old American university student, Otto Warmbier, held prisoner by North Korea for over a year before being returned in comatose condition died US President Donald Trump denounced North Korea as "a brutal regime".
"It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home. Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died today at 2.20 p.m.," Otto's parents Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement cited by Efe news.
Warmbier was admitted in a hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, on June 13 after he had been turned over in a state of coma with serious brain injuries by North Korean authorities.
"Unfortunately, the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today," the student's distraught family said.
The parents said that when their son arrived in Ohio, he was unable to speak or respond to stimuli, but the "anguished" look on his face changed the day after his arrival and he seemed to be "at peace".
Trump sent his "deepest condolences" to Warmbier's family, saying: "Otto's fate deepens my 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.
"The US once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim," he added. Pyongyang is still holding three Americans hostage, CNN reported.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who helped push for Warmbier's release, said the US holds North Korea accountable for an unjust imprisonment.
"Let us state the facts plainly: Otto Warmbier, an American citizen, was murdered by the Kim Jong Un regime," said US Senator John McCain.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in sent his condolences to Warmbier's family.
Warmbier, a one-time high school football player and homecoming king, was travelling in Beijing in December 2015 when he signed up for a five-day tour of North Korea with a Chinese company.
Warmbier was detained at the Pyongyang airport in January 2016, charged with a "hostile act" against the country's authoritarian government and convicted less than two months later of trying to steal a propaganda poster.
Upon his arrival in the US, Warmbier was taken immediately to the University of Cincinnati Medical Centre, where doctors said that two M.R.I. scans sent by the North Koreans indicated that he had sustained a catastrophic brain injury shortly after his conviction.
The North Korean regime claimed that Warmbier suffered an attack of botulism and was given a sleeping pill by his captors but he fell into a coma, a narrative that the family has refuted.
According to Efe news, the South Korean Defence Ministry said the US will send two strategic B-1 bombers to the Korean Peninsual to take part in joint drills with the South Korean Air Force.