North Korea has denied torturing University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier. Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in March 2016 after he was found guilty of allegedly stealing a propaganda poster from a hotel. More than a year later, Warmbier was medically evacuated from North Korea to Cincinnati when it was discovered that he had been in a coma since shortly after his sentencing. He passed away six days later.
When Warmbier arrived in Ohio, doctors discovered that he had experienced extensive brain damage throughout most areas of his brain. He was unable to see or respond to language, and was in a persistent vegetative state.
North Korean officials, however, say that he was in his "normal state of health" upon his return to the United States.
The North Korean spokesman quoted by Reuters suggested the student had returned to the US "in his normal state of health".
"The fact that Warmbier died suddenly in less than a week just after his return to the US in his normal state of health indicators is a mystery to us as well," he said.
Accusations that the student died because of torture and beating during his captivity were "groundless", he added.
A North Korean spokesman quoted by AFP news agency accused the US of mounting a "smear campaign".
"Our relevant agencies treat all criminals... thoroughly in accordance with domestic laws and international standards and Warmbier was not an exception," a spokesman for the National Reconciliation Council said.
"Those who have absolutely no idea about how well we treated Warmbier under humanitarian conditions dare to utter 'mistreatment' and 'torture'."
Warmbier was clearly comatose upon being taken off of an airplane on arrival in the United States. No autopsy was performed, at the request of his family.
Sick. Warmbier clearly wasn't in a "normal state of health" when he left North Korea. His parents deserve to know what happened to their son--and it's likely that they'll never find out.