Here we go! Another bargaining chip!
North Korea has detained a U.S. university student, the third western citizen known to be held in the isolated state, for committing a “hostile act” and wanting to “destroy the country’s unity”, it said on Friday.
Otto Frederick Warmbier, 21, of the University of Virginia, was in North Korea for a five-day New Year trip and was detained at Pyongyang airport on Jan. 2 ahead of a flight back to China, said Gareth Johnson of Young Pioneer Tours, which organized the visit.
According to the North’s official KCNA news agency, Warmbier entered North Korea as a tourist and “was caught committing a hostile act against the state”, which it said was “tolerated and manipulated by the U.S. government”.
The U.S. State Department, in a statement, said it was aware of reports that a U.S. citizen had been detained in North Korea but gave no other details, citing privacy concerns.
U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup, whose district includes the area where Warmbier went to high school, tweeted on Friday that his office was asking the State Department “to assist however possible in getting Mr. Warmbier home.”