Student Sentenced to 15 Years Hard Labor in North Korea Claims US Set Him Up

otto-warmbierBy Jake Anderson

North Korea has sentenced 21-year-old University of Virginia student Otto Frederick Warmbier to 15 years of prison and hard labor. Otto has been in North Korean custody since January 2nd, after authorities detained him at the airport. The DPRK alleges Otto stole a propaganda poster from his hotel, which they maintain constitutes the crime of subversion.

As more details of the case trickled out, the government claimed Warmbier had been “surfing the Internet to study different North Korean political slogans and plotting to steal one by folding it up on a thin rectangular metal sheet, and concealing it in his suitcase.”

The North Korean government further contends the theft was planned in advance and that Otto met with a member of the Friendship United Methodist Church in Wyoming, Ohio. According to a North Korean official close to the case, the church member “emphasized that North Korea is an anti-Christian communist state and that communism should be ended.”

This church member allegedly convinced Otto to steal propaganda from North Korea in order to break the nation’s ideological unity. In exchange for completing the mission, Otto was to receive a $10,000 used car. Now he has been sentenced to 15 years hard labor in a country notorious for using political prisoners for geopolitical leverage.

In his tearful testimony before the court, Otto said:

I apologize to each and every one of the millions of the Korean people, and I beg that you see how I was used and manipulated. My reward for my crime was so much smaller than the rewards that the Z Society and the Friendship United Methodist Church get from the United States administration.

Continuing, Otto issued a stunning statement:

I never, never should have allowed myself to be lured by the United States administration to commit a crime in this country. I wish that the United States administration never manipulate people like myself in the future to commit crimes against foreign countries. I entirely beg you, the people and government of the DPRK, for your forgiveness. Please! I made the worst mistake of my life!

While it is certainly possible the North Korean government coerced this statement from Otto, it must be highlighted that the American student is directly accusing the U.S. government of enlisting him to commit the crime. One possible motive for this would be propagandizing Otto’s capture as proof of North Korea’s corrupt government, as if Americans needed a reminder. Conversely, North Korea could have just as easily forced Otto to make the statement in order to paint the United States as meddling in espionage-type activities.

Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday:

It is increasingly clear that the North Korean government seeks to use these U.S. citizens as pawns to pursue a political agenda.

The draconian sentencing came after former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson made an unsuccessful diplomatic mission to North Korea to plead for Otto’s release. While some legal scholars do not believe Otto will ultimately serve the entire 15-year sentence, there is great consternation over how the situation has developed.

“North Korea’s sentencing of Otto Warmbier to 15 years’ hard labor for a college-style prank is outrageous and shocking,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch. “Pyongyang should recognize this student’s self-admitted mistake as a misdemeanor offense that it would be in most countries, release him on humanitarian grounds and send him home.”

Anti-Media reached out to Friendship United Methodist Church regarding the accusations that a church member urged Otto to steal a propaganda poster as a trophy. A spokesman responded with the following message:

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the young student from Ohio being detained in North Korea, and to his family. We pray for his quick and safe return to the United States. Any further comment would neither be appropriate or helpful while the student is still being detained.

So the questions remain: why was a church member conscripting Otto into such a strange mission? And why is Otto claiming the U.S. government manipulated him? Are these two strands connected in some way? Once the church member in question can be identified, it will surely be interesting to look into the person’s past and ascertain whether they have any affiliations with the CIA or any government agency.

Conspiracies and speculation aside, let’s hope Otto is safe and that U.S. diplomats are able to negotiate his release.

This article (Student Sentenced to 15 Years Hard Labor in North Korea Claims US Set Him Up) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Jake Anderson and theAntiMedia.orgAnti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email

  • gozounlimited

    The 21-year-old University of Virginia student patsy was recruited by the CIA under the auspices of an NGO infiltrated church to spy on N Korea. It’s just the same old song and dance. Move on….nothing new here. Enjoy hard labor…… sucker!

    • blue579

      The CIA must be far most desperate than we thought – despite the $$$$ Trillions they access to in the bowels of the black [hole] budget. Or, alternatively, sometimes a foolish young man is simply a foolish young man, in his own words bringing back a “trophy” for a friend’s mom. He apparently never watched the movie Midnight Express – most non-western countries don’t take punishment lightly.

      • gozounlimited

        Believable if our foolish young man was a Cal State student but the truth is the state of Virginia is the hub of CIA activities in the United States.

        In Virginia, there are two entry-level programs for individuals wishing to pursue a field based Core Collector career in the CIA’s National Clandestine Service.

        The Professional Trainee Program (PT)

        Designed for applicants between the ages of 21-25 with no previous work experience. Applicants are required to have at minimum a Bachelor’s degree to apply for this position.

        • blue579

          You make a good point, the CIA does have some seductive tentacles for certain young archetypes, but stealing a banner doesn’t make sense as an intel operation, nor does patsy or cut out. I have some relations living in VA, a former high level US State Dept Econ. Adviser and U of VA prof with offspring who are pretty self absorbed and lack common sense despite expensive educations, they’re the classic examples of what John Taylor Gatto smartly describes as the infantilization of society. No reality checks, entitled and probably see the world as a running television program.

          • gozounlimited

            The banner is a distraction. The truth a distant concept for mainstream media. Agree with your infantilization…. and so sad for the children whom find themselves drowning when life gets real. Now would be a good time to stop lying to them.

          • John Cook

            “stealing a banner doesn’t make sense as an intel operation” Yes, but being caught and punished for it does, it serves the simple purpose of demonizing North Korea. And as you demonstrate in the rest of your post he would be easy to manipulate (by the ‘christians’) into doing something so stupid.

          • uptheante99


    • Brad

      I think you may be right. Just like the journalists who are caught on a regular basis that are portrayed as innocent in the msm that are actual agents of the demonic CIA

  • blue579

    “While it is certainly possible the North Korean government coerced this statement from Otto…” Well, yeah, consider the bizarre wording. We should be more concerned that the global elite continue to create and mold their N. Korea boogeyman – having undertaken the task not long after WWII, working hand in hand with the Soviets to set up and carry out the Korean war as a UN police action. What’s next?

    • uptheante99

      LOL… LOL… LOVE IT!!

  • colinjames71

    I really hope our country does everything they can to help this kid. I won’t hold my breath. They’ll decide what has more value- freeing the kid and looking like the champions of humanity, or the opportunity to use his incarceration as a PR tool. The last thing they’ll do is give one thought to doing the right thing.

  • DarwinsRight

    He was set up. To ease freeway crowding. As soon as he’s out he has a free tour to hike along Irans border. And in case anyones jealous, you have to be college student to gets these tours.

    • Krupa Grechnevaya

      It would be far better for him right now even if he were in an Iranian prison. I’m sure if he went and stole a Quran there, they would just whip him a little and then make him read it,

      • blue579

        Are you sure? Iran executed more people than any other nation last year and many of the “crimes” were those accused of being heretics, homosexuals, and other nonviolent acts.

      • uptheante99

        TEA BOY FOR HIM!

    • uptheante99


  • locutus_of_klingons

    I’ve heard that the living conditions in north koreas labor camps are so good, many people who go there, choose to stay there and never return.

  • Rrrr

    So the questions remain: why was a church member conscripting Otto into such a strange mission?

    The answer is simple and obviously multi-faceted.
    One: He was Christian. The Arch Zionists Criminally Insane Cabal of Rothschild PRIVATE CENTRAL BANKING Parasites hate Christians.
    Two: Divert attention away from the Police State that is AmeriKa today.
    Three: Paint North Korea as a pariah state bereft of civilized society.
    Four: Seek Intel Agents that are guillable and pawns that can later be thrown away—> this poor kid.
    Five: The US is Satanic to the core.

    • locutus_of_klingons

      Satan runs stuff since Adam and Eve btw. nothing new

      • Brad

        Yep, this planet is entirely run by Satan. If you live long enough, are an independent thinker and have half a brain….it’s self apparent

    • nathenism

      they hate all of humanity…you christians need to give up the fantasy that you’re special…they are no more interested in you than the rest of us…

  • John_Smith001

    How dumb do you have to be to go to North Korea in this political climate, anyway?

  • jsno3

    Baiting. Another patsy. It’s the U.S. that is the perp.

  • uptheante99

    That is one crafty dude!!

  • Voiyna Taiyna

    SUSPEND Kim Jong-Un’s playstation and xbox live accounts!

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