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North Korea Denies Torturing Warmbier, Says It's 'Biggest Victim'

  • Associated Press

FILE - Otto Frederick Warmbier, a University of Virginia student, has been detained in North Korea since early January, is taken to North Korea's top court in Pyongyang, North Korea, March 16, 2016.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency on Friday denied that North Korea cruelly treated or tortured Otto Warmbier and accused the United States and South Korea of a smear campaign that insulted what it called its “humanitarian’’ treatment of him.

It also called itself the “biggest victim” in the death of an American student who was detained for more than a year and died days after being released in a coma.

The article published by KCNA Friday was Pyongyang’s first reaction to the death of Warmbier. North Korea released him last week for what it described as humanitarian reasons and he died Monday in a U.S. hospital. His family and others have blamed North Korea for his condition.

Doctors in the United States who examined Warmbier after his release said he had suffered a severe neurological injury from an unknown cause. Relatives say they were told the 22-year-old University of Virginia student had been in a coma since shortly after he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea in March 2016.

KCNA says the North dealt with Warmbier according to domestic law and international standards. He had been accused of stealing a propaganda poster and was serving a sentence of hard labor.

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