North Korea denies U.S. claims that Otto Warmbier was tortured

Otto Warmbier's arrest

REUTERSThe US student was arrested in the reclusive communist country while visiting as a tourist

The article published by the official Korean Central News Agency was Pyongyang's first reaction to Otto Warmbier's death in a United States hospital on Monday after North Korea released him for what it said was humanitarian reasons.

"We hold North Korea accountable for Otto Warmbier's unjust imprisonment, and demand the release of three other Americans who have been illegally detained".

"The tragic murder of Otto Warmbier at the hands of the North Korean government has made it clear that it is past time that we restrict tourist travel to communist, totalitarian North Korea", Wilson said.

When North Korea returned Warmbier to the United States on June 13, he was found to have severe neurological injuries.

KCNA quoted an unnamed spokesman for the country's National Reconciliation Council as saying: "Our relevant agencies treat all criminals. thoroughly in accordance with domestic laws and worldwide standards and Warmbier was not an exception".

Warmbier was accused of trying to steal a propaganda banner while visiting North Korea in 2015 and was later convicted of subversion.

The spokesman said "groundless" speculation of torture and beatings could be refuted by American doctors who came to North Korea at the time of Warmbier's repatriation and "recognised that his health indicators like pulse, temperature, respiration and the examination result of the heart and lung were all normal". Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that China shared the same goal of eliminating nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula, while State Councilor Yang Jiechi told Trump that China was willing to coordinate with the U.S.in dealing with North Korea.

Mr Trump responded to 22-year-old Otto Warmbier's death by condemning the North as a "brutal regime", and he has himself described dictator Kim Jong-un as a "madman". After worldwide outrage and over a year of imprisonment, North Korea released Warmbier last week, saying his health had deteriorated after a bout of botulism.

North Korean officials claimed Warmbier fell into a coma in March past year due to botulism and a sleeping pill.

"That's why it remains a mystery for us why he died just a week after returning home", the diplomat said.

Mourners carry the coffin of Otto Warmbier after his funeral Thursday.

Earlier this week, Obama spokesman Ned Price said the previous administration "had no higher priority than securing the release of Americans detained overseas". "The answer should be given by the US itself".

Refuting these accusations, an unnamed spokesman for North Korea's Foreign Ministry told KCNA that painting such a defamatory portrait of North Korea will only lead the country to harshen treatment for foreign detainees in the future.

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