Otto Warmbier’s Parents Release Scathing Statement Responding to Trump’s Defense of Kim Jong Un

“We have been respectful during this summit process. Now we must speak out.”

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The parents of Otto Warmbier, the American college student who died after being imprisoned in a North Korean labor camp, have issued a scathing statement responding to President Donald Trump’s recent comments defending North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

The family’s statement, released Friday, specifically and unequivocally pushed back against Trump’s claim that he believed the leader had been unaware of Warmbier’s detainment.

“We have been respectful during this summit process. Now we must speak out,” Fred and Cindy Warmbier wrote. “Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuses or lavish praise can change that.”

The statement follows Trump’s shocking defense of Kim at the close of a failed nuclear summit between the two countries in Hanoi, Vietnam, this week, during which Trump told reporters that he believed the North Korean leader felt “badly” about what had happened to Warmbier. “I don’t believe he would have allowed that to happen,” Trump said during a press conference. “He tells me that he didn’t know about it and I will take him at his word.”

He continued, “Those prisons are rough, they’re rough places, and bad things happened. But I really don’t believe that he—I don’t believe that he knew about it.”

Warmbier died in 2017 after being returned to the United States in a coma.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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