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North Korea Releases Hotel Footage of 21-Year-Old Captive Otto Warmbier’s ‘Crime Against the State’

North Korea released footage of American captive Otto Warmbier‘s “crime against the state” on Thursday, March 17, a day after sentencing the 21-year-old college student to 15 years of hard labor.

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According to North Korean officials, Warmbier’s crime was allegedly stealing a propaganda banner from his hotel corridor during his stay at the Yanggakdo International Hotel in the capital of Pyongyang. North Korea’s state-run news agency showed the alleged footage of Warmbier entering a supposed restricted area and removing the banner from his hotel wall.

Otto Frederick Warmbier
Warmbier is taken to North Korea’s top court in Pyongyang in this photo released by Kyodo on March 16, 2016.

The item reportedly included the name of Kim Jong-il, the late father of current leader Kim Jong-un, but that portion was censored by the state-run media agency. The other part of it reads: “Let’s love Korea strongly with patriotism!”

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His North Korean tour guide and other eyewitnesses identified Warmbier as the perp. The college junior at the University of Virginia was then arrested as he was boarding a plane on January 2, and he has been detained ever since.

Otto Frederick Warmbier
Video footage of Warmbier stealing a propaganda banner.

An emotionally distraught Warmbier broke down while apologizing for the incident.

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“I committed the crime of taking down a political slogan from the staff holding area of the Yanggakdo International Hotel,” he said at the time. “I never, never should have allowed myself to be lured by the United States administration to commit a crime in this country. I wish that the United States administration never manipulated people like myself in the future to commit crimes against foreign countries. I entirely beg you, the people and government of the DPRK, for your forgiveness. Please! I made the worst mistake of my life!”

Otto Frederick Warmbier

While the U.S. State Department and White House are currently calling for Warmbier’s release, tensions with North Korea and the U.S. continue to escalate. On Wednesday, President Barack Obama ordered additional sanctions against the hermit state, which recently launched several nuclear and missile tests.


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