US student Otto Warmbier dies after being released by North Korea

Donald Trump has condemned "the brutal" North Korean regime

US student Otto Warmbier dies after being released by North Korea

In this February 2016 file photo, American student Otto Warmbier speaks as he is presented to reporters in Pyongyang, North Korea | Image: Kim Kwang Hyon/AP/Press Association Images

A US student who was held in a North Korean prison for more than a year has died just a week after his release.

Otto Warmbier was medically evacuated from the country after it emerged he had been in a coma since he was jailed in March 2016.

His parents confirmed he died on Monday.

In a statement, they said: "It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home.

"Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died today at 2.20 pm."

US President Donald Trump said on hearing the news that "bad things" happened in "brutal" North Korea but at least he died at home with his parents.

In a statement he added: "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."

Doctors from the University of Cincinnati Medical Centre said last week that the 22-year-old was suffering from injuries related to cardiopulmonary arrest and was in a state of unresponsive wakefulness.

The University of Virginia student was medically evacuated from North Korea and flown to Cincinnati late last Tuesday.

His parents said they were only informed of his condition a week ago.

In this file photo, Fred Warmbier, father of Otto Warmbier, speaks during a news conference at Wyoming High School in Cincinnati | Image: John Minchillo/AP/Press Association Images

The college student was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labour in 2016 after he admitted trying to steal a propaganda sign from the staff-only area of a hotel he was staying at.

Warmbier told reporters he was offered a used car worth US$10,000 (€8,961) if he could obtain a sign, adding that US$200,000 (€17,923) would be paid to his mother if he was detained and did not return.

Following his death on Monday afternoon, Fred and Cindy Warmbier said: "The awful tumultuous treatment of our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today.

"It would be easy at a moment like this to focus on all that we lost - future time that won't be spent with a warm, engaging, brilliant young man whose curiosity and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds.

"But we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person.

"You can tell from the outpouring of emotion from the communities that he touched - Wyoming, Ohio and the University of Virginia to name just two - that the love for Otto went well beyond his immediate family."

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said: "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.

"We hold North Korea accountable for Otto Warmbier’s unjust imprisonment, and demand the release of three other Americans who have been illegally detained."