Otto Warmbier’s parents dine with Trump at White House


(JTA) — The parents of Jewish American college student Otto Warmbier had dinner at the White House with President Donald Trump.

The dinner was held on Saturday night, according to reports.

Otto Warmbier was detained in North Korea for over a year and died shortly after his return home to Cincinnati, Ohio, in June 2017 in a coma. He was 22.

The University of Virginia student had been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster on what North Korea claimed were orders from an Ohio Methodist church. Upon his release, North Korea said Warmbier’s health had deteriorated after a bout of botulism. Warmbier’s doctors in the U.S. said he suffered extensive brain damage.

Earlier this year, Fred and Cindy Warmbier criticized Trump for what they called his “lavish praise” of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Kim Jong Un “and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto,” as well as “unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity,” Fred and Cindy Warmbier wrote in a statement on February 28. “No excuses or lavish praise can change that.”

Trump met Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam, in late February for talks on the lifting of sanctions from North Korea in exchange for its disarmament from nuclear weapons. The president, who called the dictator “my friend Kim,” quit the talks prematurely with no agreements.

Trump told reporters in Hanoi that he believes Kim was not aware that Warmbier was in bad shape.

Recommended from JTA