North Korea denies torturing US student

North Korea denies torturing US student

North Korea has denied it cruelly treated or tortured a US student who was detained for more than year and died days after being released in a coma.

The article published by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) was Pyongyang's first reaction to the death of Otto Warmbier.

North Korea released him last week for what it described as humanitarian reasons and he died on Monday in a US hospital.

His family and others have blamed North Korea for his condition.

The KCNA said the North dealt with Mr Warmbier, 22, according to domestic law and international standards. He had been accused of stealing a propaganda poster and was serving a sentence of hard labour.

The article also criticised South Korea for using Mr Warmbier's case to seek the release of other detainees.

US doctors said Mr Warmbier had suffered a severe neurological injury from an unknown cause.

Relatives say they were told the University of Virginia student had been in a coma since shortly after he was sentenced to prison in North Korea in March 2016.

"Our related institutions are treating criminals who committed crimes against (our) republic strictly based on domestic law and international standards, and Warmbier was no different," the KCNA said.

The agency accused Seoul of tarnishing Pyongyang's image with its "slanderous talk about cruel treatment and torture" while having no knowledge of the "humanitarian" treatment Mr Warmbier received in the North.

The agency did not provide further details on how Mr Warmbier was treated under detention or what might have caused him to lapse into a coma.

The US, South Korea and others often accuse North Korea of using foreign detainees to try to win diplomatic concessions.

Three Americans remain in custody in the North.

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