A Defensive North Korea Issues Comment on Warmbier

As thousands gather for Ohio funeral service
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2017 3:25 AM CDT
Updated Jun 23, 2017 6:42 AM CDT
Pyongyang Denies Torturing Otto Warmbier
Fred and Cindy Warmbier watch as their son Otto, is placed in a hearse after his funeral, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Wyoming, Ohio.   (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

North Korea—which handed back Otto Warmbier in a coma after imprisoning him for 17 months—is denying that it tortured the young American. In Pyongyang's first comment since Warmbier's death on Monday, North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency said Friday that the 22-year-old was treated "strictly based on domestic law and international standards," the AP reports. The statement slammed South Korea for "slanderous talk about cruel treatment and torture" despite the "humanitarian" treatment Warmbier was given. Warmbier was buried Thursday after thousands of people gathered at his old high school in Wyoming, Ohio, for a funeral service, the BBC reports.

High school friend Andrew Kraner tells CNN the service mixed the serious and the light-hearted, reflecting Warmbier's character. "He was the nicest kid," he says. "It's tough, and my heart's very heavy for him." Ohio Sen. Rob Portman spoke to reporters before the funeral, accusing Pyongyang of showing a disregard for "basic human dignity" and denying Warmbier basic medical care. A day earlier, Portman spoke on the Senate floor, denouncing the "unnecessary and appalling detainment and barbaric treatment of Warmbier," his office says. After the service, thousands of supporters lined the road between the high school and the cemetery. (Warmbier's parents decided against having an autopsy.)

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