Otto Warmbier, the American student who was imprisoned in North Korea for more than 17 months and was returned home last week in a coma, has died, his family said Monday.
"It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home," his family said in a statement quoted by ABC News. "Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died today at 2:20 p.m."
“When Otto returned to Cincinnati late on June 13th he was unable to speak, unable to see and unable to react to verbal commands. He looked very uncomfortable – almost anguished. Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day the countenance of his face changed – he was at peace. He was home and we believe he could sense that,” the family added.
The University of Virginia student was arrested by North Korean officials last year and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, after he was charged with trying to take a propaganda banner from an area reserved for North Korean staff and forbidden to foreigners at the Yanggakdo International Hotel, where he was staying as part of a New Year’s tour group.
He was released and returned to the U.S. last week, and Warmbier's father said that his son was released after diplomatic action involving high-level officials in the government.
Warmbier was reportedly active at the Hillel of the University of Virginia and cared deeply about the Jewish community, though it was unclear if he had any Jewish connections.