WASHINGTON — The parents of Otto Warmbier, the college student who died after he was tortured in a North Korean labor camp, filed a lawsuit in U.S. federal court on Thursday alleging that North Korea violated international law.
Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student, was forced to confess to an "act of subversion on behalf of the United States government," the lawsuit said, and was subsequently held in brutal conditions for a year and a half until he was returned to his parents in a coma. Warmbier died soon after he returned to the U.S.
The lawsuit could have large implications for U.S. diplomatic efforts as President Donald Trump prepares to negotiate with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the hopes of denuclearizing the hostile country.
Upon filing, Fred Warmier said of his son's treatment in a statement: "Otto was taken hostage, kept as a prisoner for political purposes, used as a pawn and singled out for exceptionally harsh and brutal treatment by Kim Jong Un. Kim and his regime have portrayed themselves as innocent, while they intentionally destroyed our son's life. This lawsuit is another step in holding North Korea accountable for its barbaric treatment of Otto and our family."