The travel agency that arranged Otto Warmbier's trip to North Korea has said it will no longer be taking U.S. citizens to the secretive state after he was returned to the USA in a coma and later died in hospital.
His family did not give a cause of his death but said in a statement on Monday that the "awful torturous mistreatment" Warmbier endured while in North Korean custody meant "no other outcome was possible". The 22-year-old had been serving a 15 year hard labour jail sentence for allegedly attempting to steal a propaganda poster.
The North Korean regime claimed that Warmbier suffered an attack of botulism and was given a sleeping pill by his captors but he fell into a coma, a narrative that the family has refuted.
Warmbier, 22, who was arrested in North Korea while visiting as a tourist, had been described by doctors caring for him last week as having extensive brain damage that left him in a state of "unresponsive wakefulness". But some analysts believe negotiations could happen because of USA worries about the safety of the three other Americans still detained in North Korea.
Bae went home in November 2014 after a secret mission by the USA intelligence chief at the time, James Clapper, secured his release, as well as that of Mathew Miller, another American detainee. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Otto's family and friends, and all who loved him", the White House said in a statement. North Korea has detained two Korean-American academics and a missionary, a Canadian pastor and three South Korean nationals who were doing missionary work there. He was leaving North Korea on January 2, 2016, when he was detained at the airport.
Warmbier's death is set to cast a shadow over annual diplomatic and security talks between senior Chinese and USA officials in Washington this week.
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They wrote: "When Otto returned to Cincinnati late on June 13, he was unable to speak, unable to see and unable to react to verbal commands".
Trump's administration talked up the threat of war earlier this year, sending aircraft carrier strike groups to the region and holding military exercises with allies Japan and South Korea.
Three Americans remain held in North Korea.
According to experts, the death of Warmbier will only be making it hard to move forward with negotiations seeing as that North Korea still holds three other prisoners. His family says it was told he had been in a coma since soon after his sentencing.
Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who has helped free other Americans in North Korea, said he had met North Korean envoys 20 times during Mr Warmbier's incarceration and on no occasion was his health mentioned.
US President Donald Trump blamed the "brutality of the North Korean regime" for Warmbier's death.
The devastating loss of Otto Warmbier's life has led us to reconsider our position on accepting American tourists. "How do you punish North Korea?" "We must not show them a weakness or a gap in our united front that they would exploit for their own purposes", said the diplomat, who requested anonymity. He said he would push for the release of the remaining US prisoners as well as six South Koreans held in the country.