North Korea accuses United States of ‘smear campaign’ over Warmbier death

Rodman arrived in Pyongyang, North Korea the same day Pyongyang released Otto Warmbier, 22, the American college student who was released from prison last week and died soon after.The South Korean president, a strong ally of the US, said that the North is heavily responsible for Warmbier’s death. U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from the Cincinnati area, told reporters that North Korea must be held accountable for Warmbier’s detention and death.His language was echoed by South Korean President Moon Jae-In, who said in an interview ahead of a White House visit next week that North Korea bears responsibility for the student’s death. He had suffered a severe neurological injury from an unknown cause, according to his doctors.But according to KCNA, a spokesman of the North’s National Reconciliation Council said: “Our relevant agencies treat all criminals who committed crimes against (our) republic strictly based on domestic law and global standards, and Warmbier was no different”.Two months later, he was found guilty of committing “hostile acts” against the North Korean regime and sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor in a trial that reportedly lasted about an hour.Otto Warmbier went into a coma during his 17 months detained in North Korea.The death of Warmbier has inflamed already high tensions between the United States and North Korea.The 22-year-old was arrested in North Korea in January 2016 while travelling with a tour group.Mr Warmbier’s brother and sister spoke at Thursday’s memorial, as did a number of his friends, said attendee Fred Koss.”The smear campaign against [the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] staged in the USA compels us to make firm determination that humanitarianism and benevolence for the enemy are a taboo and we should further sharpen the blade of law”, the spokesman said.A person believed to be Otto Warmbier is transferred from a medical transport airplane to an awaiting ambulance at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S., June 13, 2017.Otto Warmbier was returned by North Korea to the USA last week, more than a year after he had been sentenced to 15 years’ hard labour.Warmbier died on Monday, less than a week after returning home in a coma. Only under the current administration of Donald Trump, North Korea received several such requests and agreed to send the student back home “in consideration of his bad health”, the statement said.A negotiator involved in Warmbier’s release said his Jewishness was hidden as a tactic because he was accused by Pyongyang of acting on behalf of the United Methodist Church.Mr Warmbier’s family objected to a post-mortem examination, so the Hamilton County coroner’s office conducted only an external examination of his body and is still trying to determine his cause of death.