Former President Barack Obama has issued a statement about Otto Warmbier, the American college student who died this week, days after being released from North Korea in a coma after more than a year in captivity.
“During the course of the Obama Administration, we had no higher priority than securing the release of Americans detained overseas,” Obama spokesman Ned Price said in the statement. “Their tireless efforts resulted in the release of at least 10 Americans from North Korean custody during the course of the Obama administration.”
Added Price, who was National Security Counsel spokesperson during Obama’s administration: “It is painful that Mr. Warmbier was not among them, but our efforts on his behalf never ceased, even in the waning days of the administration. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Warmbier’s family and all who had the blessing of knowing him.”
Warmbier’s father blasted Obama during a news conference at the time of his son’s release, when cued up with a question as to what more could have been done to secure the young man’s release before Donald Trump entered the White House.
“The question is, do I think the past administration could have done more?” he shot back. “I think the results speak for themselves.”
President Trump similarly asserted this week that “the results would have been different” had Warmbier been brought home sooner. He did not elaborate but added, “He should have been brought home that day.”
Warmbier had been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after being found guilty of trying to steal a propaganda poster from a hotel during a January 2016 visit to North Korea’s capital.