The parents of Otto Warmbier, an American hostage who was killed by the regime in North Korea, are moving ahead with a lawsuit against the regime, according to a report from The Washington Post on Friday.
Despite President Donald Trump’s recent meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, Fred and Cindy Warmbier will press ahead with a lawsuit claiming that their son was “brutally tortured and murdered” by the communist regime.
“The summit doesn’t affect what we’re doing at all,” said the family’s attorney, Richard Cullen. “We’re moving full speed ahead. They’re looking forward to their day in court, where they can prove that Otto’s death was the result of his brutal treatment at the hands of the North Koreans.”
Although U.S. citizens are not typically allowed to sue other countries, North Korea’s status as a State Department-designated state sponsor of terrorism allows people to file legal challenges through the courts.
Warmbier, a 22-year-old college student, was originally sentenced to 15 years hard labor for allegedly stealing pro-government paraphernalia from his hotel while on a trip to North Korea in March 2016. However, he was sent back to the United States last June in a coma and appeared to have suffered extensive brain damage, and he died over a week later.
“Obviously, this has been an unimaginable, painful, horrific experience, and they feel very strongly that the North Korean regime should be held accountable for the death of their boy,” Cullen continued. “They feel there’s no better venue for that than a United States court.”
Trump indicated on Tuesday that Warmbier’s death led to his recent summit with Kim Jong-un in which both the U.S. and North Korea agreed to embrace a new era of peace and work towards a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.
“Something happened from that day. It was a terrible thing. It was brutal. But a lot of people started to focus on what was going on, including North Korea,” Trump said. “I really think that Otto is someone who did not die in vain.”
“We appreciate President Trump’s recent comments about our family,” Warmbier’s parents said in response. “We are proud of Otto and miss him. Hopefully, something positive can come from this.”
Since their son’s death, the pair railed against the North Korean regime in their son’s memory.
“North Korea is not a victim,” Fred Warmbier said in an interview with Fox News last year. “They’re terrorists. They kidnapped Otto, they tortured him, they intentionally injured him. They are not victims. They’re terrorists.”