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Otto Warmbier’s Parents Sue North Korea Over Son’s ‘Torture And Murder’

The parents of Otto Warmbier filed suit in federal court against North Korea on Thursday, alleging that the regime “brutally tortured and murdered” him during his 17 months in captivity.

Warmbier arrived in the United States in a coma after being released by Pyongyang and died soon after.

Warmbier was “taken hostage, kept as a prisoner for political purposes, used as a pawn and singled out for exceptionally harsh and brutal treatment by Kim Jong Un,” his father Fred said in a statement. “Kim and his regime have portrayed themselves as innocent, while they intentionally destroyed our son’s life. This lawsuit is another step in holding North Korea accountable for its barbaric treatment of Otto and our family.”

Otto Warmbier had entered the country while on vacation from a college study abroad program in Hong Kong. He was convicted in 2016 of stealing a propaganda poster and sentenced to 15 years hard labor. He developed severe brain damage one month later, but was not freed for another year.

The suit asks for punitive damages over Warmbier’s injuries and death, and emotional damages for the family’s suffering, The Washington Post reported. It comes at a time that the Trump administration is negotiating with North Korea over its nuclear program.

Warmbier is Jewish and was active in Hillel at the University of Virginia, where he was a student. His family reportedly kept his Jewish identity a secret so as not to embarrass the regime.

Contact Aiden Pink at [email protected] or on Twitter, @aidenpink

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