North Korea puts tearful detained American before cameras

North Korea puts tearful detained American before cameras

North Korea presented a detained American student before the media today in Pyongyang, where he tearfully apologized for attempting to steal a political banner -- at the behest, he said, of a member of a church back home who wanted it as a "trophy" -- from a staff-only section of the hotel where he had been staying.

North Korea announced in late January it had arrested Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student. It said that after entering the country as a tourist he committed an anti-state crime with "the tacit connivance of the US government and under its manipulation."

No details of what kind of charges or punishment Warmbier faces were immediately released.

According to Warmbier's statement today, he wanted the banner with a political slogan on it as a trophy for the church member, who was the mother of a friend.

In previous cases, people who have been detained in North Korea and made a public confession often recant those statements after their release.

He was arrested while visiting the country with Young Pioneer Tours, an agency specialising in travel to North Korea, which is strongly discouraged by the US State Department.

He had been staying at the Yanggakdo International Hotel, which is located on an island in a river that runs through Pyongyang, the capital.

It is common for sections of tourist hotels to be reserved for North Korean staff and off-limits to foreigners.

Warmbier is a native of Ohio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, while campaigning in New Hampshire as a Republican presidential candidate, called the arrest "inexcusable."

Kasich has urged President Barack Obama to "make every effort to secure Mr Warmbier's immediate release and keep (his) family constantly apprised."

Kasich said North Korea should either provide evidence of the alleged anti-state activities or release Warmbier.

In his comments, Warmbier said he was offered a used car worth USD 10,000 by a member of the church. He said the church member told him the slogan would be hung on its wall as a trophy.

He also said he was told that if he was detained and didn't return, USD 200,000 would be paid to his mother in the form of a charitable donation.

Warmbier identified the church as the Friendship United Methodist Church, which is in his hometown, Wyoming, Ohio.

Meshach Kanyion, pastor of the church, would not confirm whether he knows Warmbier or if he is a member of the church. "I don't have any comment at this time," he told The Associated Press.  

Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi? Who will win the battle royale of the Lok Sabha Elections 2019


Get real-time news updates, views and analysis on Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on Deccanherald.com/news/lok-sabha-elections-2019 


Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram with #DHPoliticalTheatre for live updates on the Indian general elections 2019.

Comments (+)