Otto Warmbier's Parents Respond To Trump's Defense of Kim Jong Un

Mar 1, 2019

Updated 4:16 p.m.

The parents of Otto Warmbier issued a statement Friday in response to President Donald Trump's defense of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the alleged treatment of their son while in North Korea's custody.

In response to the president saying he took Kim "at his word" that he didn't know Warmbier had been injured, Fred and Cindy Warmbier said

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

On Thursday, Trump said, "I don't think the top leadership knew about it. I don't believe that he (Kim) would have allowed that to happen." 

After being imprisoned in Pyongyang for a year for allegedly stealing a poster, Warmbier was returned to Cincinnati in June 2017 in a coma from a severe brain injury. His parents said he was tortured. Their son died at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center days after his return.

Ohio's Republican Senator Rob Portman also took issue with Trump's comments. In a statement to WVXU on Thursday, he said, "We must remember Otto and we should never let North Korea off the hook for what they did to him."

Friday afternoon, Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway clarified the president's statement on Fox News. Shortly after, the president issued a statement of his own on Twitter

"I never like being misinterpreted, but especially when it comes to Otto Warmbier and his great family," he wrote. "...Of course I hold North Korea responsible for Otto's mistreatment and death."