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McCain says released US student was murdered by North Korea regime

(AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)

PHOENIX — U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said an American student who was taken prisoner in North Korea was killed by the nation’s dictatorial regime.

“Let us state the facts plainly: Otto Warmbier, an American citizen, was murdered by the Kim Jong-Un regime,” McCain said in a release.

Warmbier, 22, was released from prison last week in a coma. He died Monday.

Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years hard labor in a North Korean prison after he confessed to trying to steal a propaganda banner.

“In the final year of his life, [Warmbier] 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.

McCain said the United States should strongly condemn the Asian country for the way it treats imprisoned Americans.

“It has escalated to brutalizing Americans, including three other citizens currently imprisoned in North Korea,” he said. “The United States of America cannot and should not tolerate the murder of its citizens by hostile powers.”

The U.S. government has accused North Korea of using detainees such as Warmbier as political pawns. North Korea has accused Washington and South Korea of sending spies to overthrow its government.

Several other politicians also criticized North Korea after Warmbier passed.

Republican Sen. Rob Portman of the Cincinnati area said North Korea should be “universally condemned for its abhorrent behavior.”

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Cleveland said the country’s “despicable actions … must be condemned.”

Portman added that the Warmbiers have “had to endure more than any family should have to bear.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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