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Warmbiers 'Overjoyed' At Legislation Punishing North Korea

Fred and Cindy Warmbier at a press conference in Seoul, South Korea, on Nov. 22, 2019.
Ahn Young-joon
Fred and Cindy Warmbier at a press conference in Seoul, South Korea, on Nov. 22, 2019.

The parents of Cincinnatian Otto Warmbier are praising proposed expanded sanctions against North Korea, saying their son would approve. The college student wasimprisoned there and died shortly after being returned to the U.S. in 2017.

The Otto Warmbier North Korea Nuclear Sanctions and Enforcement Acthas passed both the House and Senate and is on its way to the president. It's part of the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Four senators including Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown held a news conference Wednesday with Fred and Cindy Warmbier, Otto's parents.

"I'm still traumatized by what North Korea did to our family and certainly what they did to our son," said Fred Warmbier. "Today I'm overjoyed at the commitment that those senators have put in their efforts to make a difference in North Korea."

Cindy Warmbier spoke directly to the totalitarian regime. "My message is to North Korea like it always is. People matter. Otto matters. We're never going to let you forget our son!"

Ohio's Republican Senator Portman stood alongside the Warmbiers. "This is emotional for me because I spent 18 months trying to ensure young Otto Warmbier, a promising college student from Cincinnati, Ohio, my hometown, was able to be released from captivity only to find out the North Korean regime ... had not told us of his medical condition."

What the legislation will do:

  • Strengthen and expand U.S. sanctions on North Korea and its financial facilitators and supporters
  • Strengthen Congressional oversight of North Korea sanctions
  • Bolster U.S. and UN enforcement of sanctions, including by requiring sanctions on foreign banks which support banned trade finance with North Korea
  • Strengthen Treasury's role in combating human trafficking

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With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.