North Korea has issued its first response to the treatment of Otto Warmbier, following his death on Monday.
The secretive, dictator-led state has denied torturing the American citizen who was detained last year for stealing propaganda material.
Warmbier died on Monday in hospital in the United States, after being released from Korea in a coma.
The official news agency for North Korea, KCNA, quoted a government source, saying: “Our relevant agencies treat all criminals in accordance with domestic laws and international standards, and Warmbier was not an exception.”
American President, Donald Trump, had previously described the treatment of Warmbier as a ‘total disgrace’.
South Korea, the North’s bitter neighbours, had also criticised the treatment of criminals in the communist country, saying Kim Jong-Un, and his government, shouldered responsibility for the death.
KCNA continued to blame an American ‘smear campaign’ and accused South Korea of seeking to exploit Warmbier’s death to press its own demand for the release of six detainees.
Its government-run news agency said that South Korea had used ‘slanderous talk about cruel treatment and torture’ while having no knowledge of the ‘humanitarian’ treatment Warmbier received.
It claimed the American citizen was handled in alignment with domestic laws and international standards.
Warmbier died on Monday, with the funeral on Thursday, after being released from North Korea for ‘humanitarian reasons’. Doctors in America, upon receiving and treating Warmbier, said that he had suffered a severe neurological injury from an unknown cause.
In March 2016, Warmbier, from Cincinnati, Ohio, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labour after stealing a propaganda poster from his hotel which had the name of Kim Jong-Il (the country’s previous leader before Kim Jong-Un).
Unsurprisingly, KCNA failed to disclose any details of how Warmbier was treated or what may have caused him to lapse into a coma.
It demanded that South Korea returned 12 restaurant workers who defected to the south last year. North Korea is a controlling state that has very closed borders.
The dictatorship claims that the democracy abducted the women, while the other side says that the women defected on their own.
There are still American citizens who remain detained in the North.
Sources: Daily Mail
Featured Image Credit: PA