UPDATE – 3/16: University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, 21, has been sentenced to 15-years hard labor in North Korea for “subversion”. Warmbier made a public confession on Feb. 29.
Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson met with North Korean officials on Tuesday to lobby for Warmbier’s release.
You can view his confession below.
Otto Warmbier, 21, an American university student from Ohio has been detained in North Korea for “hostile acts” according to that country’s state run media.
Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) accused the University of Virginia student of being in the country under the “guise of a tourist” and that he was working under the “tacit connivance of the US government and under its manipulation”.
According to The Independent they interviewed an Irish national by the name of Darragh who was on the same flight as other members of Otto Warmbier’s tour group.
“We were all talking about that and how it was quite strange that you would choose to go to North Korea on your first trip out of your home country,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s connected at all but my tour group that I was with were a lot older.”
Darragh claims that younger members of the tour, including Warmbier, were out partying and drinking during their stay in dictatorship.
“The other tour group [the Young Pioneers] were really young. Between 18 and 25. They were up until four or five in the morning drinking vodka and having fun basically,” Darragh said. “We had to be up at 7am for the actual flight. I don’t know whether there’s any connection there – that he may have just said something if he was hungover or if he did something stupid while he was drunk the night before.”
Darragh went on to imply that Warmbier’s partying may have gotten out of hand and gotten him in trouble.
“There was another person sitting next to me on the plane. This person said he [Otto] had said something to the guard,” he said. “At the gate for the plane there was a woman collecting tickets and an armed soldier. According to the person next to me he [Otto] said something to the soldier and then the soldier started yelling at him and dragged him off.”
Right now details are scarce, but the U.S. State Department said that they are aware that an American has been detained.
— Department of State (@StateDept) January 22, 2016
[The Associated Press] [RT] [The Independent] [Photo courtesy of International Business Times]