Dennis Rodman defends friendship with Kim Jong Un after Otto Warmbier's death

Otto Warmbier's arrest

REUTERSThe US student was arrested in the reclusive communist country while visiting as a tourist

North Korea today denied torturing or mistreating Otto Warmbier, the USA student who died after being released from the North in a coma, in the first official reaction to his death.

As many as 2,500 mourners flocked to Wyoming High School, in Wyoming, Ohio, and many more lined up in the street, to say good bye to Jewish American college student Otto Warmbier who had been imprisoned in North Korea for more than a year and died shortly after being returned in a coma to Ohio.

"This college kid never should have been detained in the first place", said Portman, who met secretly with North Korean officials in NY last December to press for Warmbier's release.

North Korea released him last week for what it described as humanitarian reasons and he died on Monday in a United States hospital.

"The terrible torturous mistreatment our son experienced at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today", reads a statement issued by Warmbier's family after his death.

They say he suffered a "severe neurological injury", the most likely cause of which was a cardiopulmonary arrest that had cut the blood supply to the brain.

Sentenced to hard labor for stealing a political poster from a North Korean hotel, the 22-year-old Warmbier was medically evacuated in a coma last week after almost 18 months in captivity.

But the state-run Korean Central News Agency said Friday said that Warmbier was treated in accordance with domestic law.

Warmbier was detained at the Pyongyang airport in January 2016 after a short tour of North Korea. The agent, Chris Volo, said he believes Rodman's trips to North Korea "had a lot to do" with Warmbier's release.

"Why the US government which claims to care about the welfare of its citizens had not even once made an official request for the release of Warmbier on humanitarian basis during the Obama administration?"

"On behalf of the entire State Department and the United States government, I extend my condolences to the Warmbier family, and offer my prayers as they enter a time of grief no parent should ever know". Rodman, who reportedly has a personal friendship with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, traveled to the communist country June 13. He added that its efforts to secure Warmbier's release had "never ceased, even in the waning days of the administration".

North Korea has since denied any wrongdoing or mistreatment and claimed they were in fact "the biggest victim" in this situation.

The thousands of funeral goers formed two lines as the coffin carrying Mr Warmbier was carried in to Wyoming High School for the 45-minute service.

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