Tensions between the United States and North Korea continue to mount as debate about the death of former North Korean detainee Otto Warmbier intensifies. Now, Senator John McCain has gone on the record to call the suspicious death a murder, according to CNN.
Warmbier had been in the DPRK as a tourist when he attempted to steal a political poster. Police arrested him and detained him for 17 months. When he was finally released back to the U.S., he had severe brain damage and died shortly thereafter.
His family believes he was tortured; the North Korean government maintains his condition was brought about after contracting botulism. However, NBC News reports that doctors who initially examined Warmbier said they found no evidence of botulism, but did find extensive brain damage that could have been caused by oxygen deprivation, which can be caused when the heart is stopped.
"Let us state the facts plainly: Otto Warmbier, an American citizen, was murdered by the Kim Jong Un regime," said US Sen. John McCain.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson added that North Korea will be held "accountable" for the wrongful imprisonment of Warmbier.
And President Trump addressed the situation as well, saying, "Otto's fate deepens my administration's determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency. The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim."
"When Otto returned to Cincinnati late on June 13 he was unable to speak, unable to see and unable to react to verbal commands. He looked very uncomfortable -- almost anguished," said the Warmbier family in a statement shortly after his return to U.S. soil.
"Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day the countenance of his face changed -- he was at peace. He was home and we believe he could sense that."
“The fact that he died so quickly suggests he was getting some sort of medical treatment that could be withheld,” said Dr. Andrew Naidech, neurocritical care physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
The Associated Press reports that a coroner's office in Ohio is now investigating the death and is expected to release more information soon.
Next steps for the current U.S. administration remain unclear.
[Photo: Getty Images]