‘I don’t believe he knew about it.’ Trump defends Kim Jong Un on Otto Warmbier’s death

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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Thursday he did not hold Kim Jong Un responsible for the death of Otto Warmbier, the U.S. college student who died after being imprisoned in North Korea.

In 2016, Warmbier, then 21 years old, was arrested and accused of committing a “hostile act” as he tried to leave North Korea. He was sent home to his parents in Ohio in June 2017 in a coma with a massive brain injury and died afterward.

Trump, who abruptly ended a Vietnam summit with Kim on nuclear disarmament, was asked by a reporter about the discussions he had with the North Korean leader on Warmbier’s death.

“I don’t believe he knew about it,” Trump said of Kim. “He tells me that he didn’t know about it and I will take him at his word.”

After two days of meetings in Hanoi, Trump and Kim could not agree on terms for denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. During the summit, Trump largely avoided discussing the human rights record of North Korea, a reclusive authoritarian country.

“I think they’re an incredible family,” Trump said of the Warmbiers. “What happened is horrible.”Warmbier, a University of Virginia student, had been due to stay in North Korea for a five-day study tour when he was accused by North Korea of tearing down a propaganda post in his room.

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