Trump honors memory of Otto Warmbier in State of the Union Address

President pays respects to Warmbier while condemning North Korea

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Otto Warmbier's parents, Fred and Cindy, receive a standing ovation during President Donald Trump's State of the Union address. 

Courtesy White House

President Donald Trump honored late University student Otto Warmbier in his State of the Union Address to Congress Tuesday night. Trump referenced Warmbier amidst condemnation of the North Korean government and describing the tensions between the two nations.

Warmbier died in June 2017, shortly after being released from imprisonment in North Korea. In January 2016, Warmbier traveled to North Korea with Young Pioneer Tours where he was arrested for allegedly stealing a poster from a hotel. In March of that year, Warmbier was charged with crimes against the government and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. 

The North Korean government released Warmbier after 17 months in prison. Warmbier was returned in a comatose state and further medical examinations determined he suffered severe loss of brain tissue. He died nearly a week later.

“Otto Warmbier was a hardworking student at the University of Virginia,” Trump said during his speech. “This wonderful young man was arrested and charged with crimes against the state. After a shameful trial, the dictatorship sentenced Otto to 15 years of hard labor, before returning him to America last June, horribly injured and on the verge of death.”

Trump announced the attendance of Warmbier’s family — his parents, Fred and Cindy, and his brother and sister, Austin and Greta — at the address and praised their resolve.

“You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires us all,” Trump said. “Tonight we pledge to honor Otto's memory with American resolve.”

Trump prefaced his acknowledgement of Warmbier with the diplomatic threat North Korea poses to the United States.

“We need only look at the depraved character of the North Korean regime to understand the nature of the nuclear threat it could pose to America and our allies,” Trump said.

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