"We hold North Korea accountable for Otto Warmbier's unjust imprisonment, and demand the release of three other Americans who have been illegally detained".
"This college kid never should have been detained in the first place", said Portman, who previously revealed that he met secretly with North Korean officials in NY last December to press for Warmbier's release.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from the Cincinnati area, told the throng of reporters stationed outside that Warmbier was "an fantastic young man" from a resilient family and that North Korea must be held accountable for what happened to the 22-year-old University of Virginia student, who died Monday. Doctors said the released detainee suffered a severe brain damage.
"The smear campaign against (North Korea) staged in the U.S. compels us to make firm determination that we should further sharpen the blade of law", the foreign ministry spokesman said according to state media. He had been accused of stealing a propaganda poster and was serving a sentence of hard labor.
North Korea also further reemphasized their stance that Otto's sentence was deserving of his offense, which they maintain was an act of subversion against the government while also attempting to ward off "groundless" accusations that Otto was tortured or beaten. Warmbier will be buried later in the day at a local cemetery.
Officials at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he was treated after his return from the North, declined to provide details, and his family asked the Hamilton County Coroner on Tuesday not to perform an autopsy.
More than a year went by without public word of Warmbier before the State Department learned of his dire condition on June 6.
The unnamed North Korean spokesperson said that the Obama administration was to blame for not intervening on Warmbier's behalf sooner, calling Warmbier a "victim of policy of 'strategic patience'".
"Why the US government which claims to care about the welfare of its citizens had not even once made an official request for the release of Warmbier on humanitarian basis during the Obama administration?"
He added: "I addressed ..."
North Korea still holds Kim Sang Duk and Kim Hak-song, academics who worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, and a businessman named Kim Dong Chul.
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman burst into tears during an "Good Morning America" interview Friday, saying he doesn't understand why he's caught so much criticism over his most recent jaunt to North Korea.