4.4 C
New York
Friday, January 27, 2023

The tragic death of the American student who was accused of stealing a poster in…

In 2016, Otto Barbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster from a North Korean hotel, but suffered brain damage and was in a coma shortly after his trial – dying without ever telling his side of history

“He fell into a coma shortly after his conviction but we didn’t know about it,” said Otto Barbier’s parents, while information that he had been repeatedly beaten was available to US intelligence.

Let’s start things from the beginning.

Otto Varbier, a 21-year-old economics student at the University of Virginia, wanted an adventure before his life became an endless stream of bank spreadsheets. So, before going on a semester abroad in Hong Kong, he decided to take a trip to North Korea – a decision that tragically changed the course of his life.

The US State Department advised him against the trip, and his parents didn’t like the idea either. But this was a bright young man, a mathematician and star athlete, who had become the No. 1 person at his school in Ohio and king of the dance. As his mother later said “why say no to a kid like that?”

Unfortunately, Barbier’s adventure turned into a nightmare when he was arrested by North Korean authorities, who accused him of committing a “hostile act against the state.” The crime? He allegedly stole a propaganda poster.

The 17 months that followed were nothing short of painful, but when Otto Varbier returned home, the true horror of his imprisonment was revealed: He was in a coma with severe brain damage and his health was rapidly declining. He died within a week.

To this day, no one knows what really happened to Otto Barbier while he was held in North Korea, but his family strongly believes that his death was the result of “horrible, torturous treatment.”

The impressive but short life of Otto Barbier

He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on December 12, 1994, the eldest child of Fred and Cindy Varbier. According to GQ, Otto was a versatile young man who graduated as salutatorian of his class and showed prowess as a swimmer and soccer player.

He was named Wyoming’s high school prom king, which was no surprise considering his “athletic prowess, classic looks and endless charisma,” a classmate later wrote to the Post Independent. “But Otto still felt like everyone’s friend in our small town of Wyoming, Ohio, given his non-discriminating friendliness.”

During his high school graduation speech, Otto found himself embarrassed. He finally chose to quote a quote from The Office: “I wish there was a way to know you could be in the good old days before they’re gone.”

After high school, Otto won a scholarship to the University of Virginia. He was known to be studious and meticulous, and even joined a fraternity full of “kinda nerds.” His friends said he put his studies and his family first.

“Budget Travel to Destinations Your Mother Would Rather Stay Away From”

In late 2015, she was preparing to study abroad in Hong Kong the following spring – but first she wanted an adventure. The young student soon learned about Young Pioneer Tours, a Chinese company that advertised “budget travel to destinations your mother would rather you stay away from,” according to the New York Times.

He signed on for a five-day “New Year’s Party Tour” in North Korea and in late December boarded a plane to Pyongyang.

Upon arrival, Barbier and the other members of his travel group had their cameras and smartphones confiscated and searched for evidence that could be considered “subversive” of the North Korean government — and then they entered one of the most oppressive countries on Earth.

4437408322992358 image

The shocking arrest of Otto Barbier in North Korea

Otto’s roommate during the tour was a Brit named Danny Grayton. “From the moment I met him we hit it off,” she later told the BBC. “He was very smart, intelligent and likable.”

The group of little explorers were staying at a hotel popularly known as the “Alcatraz of Fun”. Located on an island off the mainland, it has five restaurants, a bar, a sauna, a massage parlor and a bowling alley.

After the New Year’s Eve celebration held in Pyongyang’s central square, the group returned to their secluded hotel. Some headed to the bar, while others, like Grayton, went to the bowling alley. He later recalled that there was a “two-hour window” where no one could account for Barbier, but when Grayton returned to their shared room around 4:30 a.m., he found him fast asleep.

What happened in those two hours?

However, authorities had just captured grainy CCTV footage showing an unidentified person tearing down a propaganda poster in a restricted area of ​​the hotel – and they blamed Otto Barbier.

On January 2, 2016, as the group of tourists went through ticket control in Pyongyang before boarding their plane back to China, North Korean officials tapped Otto on the shoulder and led him away.

“I made a tongue-in-cheek comment,” Grayton recalled. “I actually said, ‘Well, we won’t see you again.’ He kind of laughed at me and that was the last time we saw him.”

4437408449876699 image

Otto’s “confession”, imprisonment and death

Returning to America, his parents had no idea what had happened to their son. He should have been missing for less than a week – but it wasn’t until late January that the North Korean government confirmed it had captured Barbier.

A month later, Otto Barbier made his television debut.

Standing in front of two oversized portraits of North Korea’s “supreme leaders” Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, Barbier spoke to the cameras and thanked the North Korean government for “the opportunity to apologize for my crime, to beg for forgiveness and to beg for any help to save my life.”

Dressed in a suit and fighting back tears, he said he tried to steal the propaganda poster as a “trophy” for a Methodist church in his hometown to “harm the work ethic and motivation of the Korean people.”

Finally, she could no longer hold back the tears. “I made the worst decision of my life,” he cried, “but I’m human.”

Watch the video

4437408767601287 image

Something is wrong with the story

Of course, the story Barbier told during the show was full of inconsistencies. For example, Barbier was Jewish and had nothing to do with a Methodist church. This led many to suspect that the words he spoke were not his own.

Regardless, in March 2016, the North Korean government sentenced him to 15 years of hard labor for crimes against the state. Meanwhile, a campaign back in the United States was pushing for his return.

It took over a year, but a delegation of American officials finally brought the young student home in June 2017. Unfortunately, the occasion was anything but happy.

4437408900019279 image

Returned to “unresponsive alert state”

According to Daniel Kanter, one of the doctors who attended to Varbier, he returned to a “state of unresponsive alertness.” He was unable to speak but showed “spontaneous eye blinking”.

According to the nurses who had cared for him in North Korea, Barbier had been in a coma since the day after his trial in March 2016. He hadn’t even arrived at the labor camp.

Of course, North Korea denied allegations that it had abused him in any way. Officials claimed that Barbier had botulism and suffered an allergic reaction to some medication. He died on June 19, 2017, surrounded by his family in hospital.

His parents never believed the North Korean story. They strongly believed that their son had been physically tortured while in prison. However, a medical examination found no signs that Otto had been beaten, noting that he had fallen into a coma after suffering from a lack of blood and oxygen to his brain – possibly due to cardiac arrest.

It is unlikely that the truth about Otto Barbier’s suspicious arrest, trial and death will ever be revealed. “We don’t know what happened to him,” the coroner said, “and that’s the final conclusion. That we don’t know anything.”

Source: in.gr

Source link

Related Articles

Hedman lifts Lightning over Bruins, ending Boston’s 6-game win streak

Bruins Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman celebrates with the bench after scoring during the third period. AP Photo/Chris O'Meara By JOHN KREISER, Associated Press January 26, 2023 TAMPA, Fla....

Video | With the M1 Abrams tanks, Ukraine also brings in logistical problems

After the Leopard 2, Ukraine will also receive more than thirty M1 Abrams tanks. The American machines are highly regarded, but are also...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

0FansLike
0FollowersFollow
0SubscribersSubscribe

Latest Articles

Hedman lifts Lightning over Bruins, ending Boston’s 6-game win streak

Bruins Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman celebrates with the bench after scoring during the third period. AP Photo/Chris O'Meara By JOHN KREISER, Associated Press January 26, 2023 TAMPA, Fla....

Video | With the M1 Abrams tanks, Ukraine also brings in logistical problems

After the Leopard 2, Ukraine will also receive more than thirty M1 Abrams tanks. The American machines are highly regarded, but are also...

Does Patriots’ Shrine Bowl coaching staff hint at Joe Judge’s future in 2023?

Patriots "He's not going to be coaching the quarterbacks, but he does have a role carved out." Joe Judge and Mac Jones reportedly butted heads throughout...