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Otto Warmbier's death draws outcry over North Korea rights violations


June 20 (UPI) — Condemnations of North Korea are growing following the death of 22-year-old Otto Warmbier, the University of Virginia student who died Monday, days after being released from North Korea detention.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said in a statement the Kim Jong Un regime “murdered” Warmbier, and that the United States should “not tolerate the murder of its citizens by hostile powers.”

“Let us state the facts plainly: Otto Warmbier, an American citizen, was murdered by the Kim Jong Un regime. In the final year of his life, he lived the nightmare in which the North Korean people have been trapped for 70 years: forced labor, mass starvation, systematic cruelty, torture and murder,” McCain said in his statement.

North Korea has claimed Warmbier was in a comatose state for more than a year and asserted the U.S. detainee was released last week on “humanitarian grounds.”

Pyongyang did not issue a statement in response to the news of Warmbier’s death on Tuesday.

In South Korea, recently elected President Moon Jae-in denounced North Korea for its “deplorable” lack of regard for human rights, “universal norms and values of humanity.” Moon also sent condolences to the Warmbier family and the American people, local news service News 1 reported.

In an interview with CBS, Moon, a former human rights lawyer, also said North Korea should be held responsible for Warmbier’s death, while describing the state as an “irrational regime.”

Moon, unlike his predecessor Park Geun-hye, had emphasized a more conciliatory approach to relations with North Korea. He is expected to hold a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump on June 29-30 in Washington, D.C.

Calls for Moon to take a tougher approach to North Korea and stronger cooperation with the United States are growing in Seoul following Warmbier’s death.

Son Geum-ju, the spokesman for the center-left opposition People’s Party, said Tuesday Moon needs to “pay close attention in order to maintain a solid U.S.-South Korea alliance and peace on the peninsula,” Newsis reported.

Son also called on the Moon administration to find a solution to the six South Korean detainees in the North.

“We mourn the death of Mr. Warmbier and give condolences to his grieving family,” Son said.

Warmbier’s death has prompted Young Pioneer Tours, the agency that took him to Pyongyang, to reconsider taking American tourists, USA Today reported Tuesday.

Tags: kim jong un regime, president moon jae-in, north korea detention, president donald trump, predecessor park geun-hye, young pioneer tours, center-left opposition people