As tensions between the United States and North Korea mount over the defiant dictatorship’s rogue atomic weapons program, the parents of the imprisoned American Otto Warmbier told Fox News on Monday they can't let their son's story get lost amid the nuclear noise.
The 22-year-old Warmbier has served just over a year of his 15-year sentence -- allegedly for taking down a sign of the dead dictator Kim Jong Il while Warmbier was in the country with a tour group. And now, with the U.S. stepping up pressure – and likely sanctions – on an increasingly hostile North Korea, Warmbier’s parents hope their son is part of any negotiations, should the reclusive regime seek to come to the bargaining table.
“Nothing Otto may or may not have done in North Korea rises to this level of punishment,” Fred Warmbier told “Fox & Friends” on Monday. “We’re here to make sure that Otto is included in any dialogue or diplomacy with North Korea.”
Fred Warmbier said he and his wife, Cindy, were “urged to keep quiet” about their son’s plight by the Obama administration.
“They feel you don’t get involved that way,” Fred said. “It lets the other side solve problems and make things happen.”
But a new administration is giving the Warmbiers new hope.
“You are doing a great job,” Cindy Warmbier said, directly addressing President Trump, who is known to watch the program. “Thank you for putting attention on something that needs to be addressed.”
She added: “We think this would just be a great goodwill gesture and a good start of dialogue to release Otto now.”
Until he comes home, the last memory the Warmbiers have of Otto is watching their son tearfully deliver a coerced “confession” on North Korea state television.
“When I see the picture of Otto going on TV with that confession, that’s not the image I have of my son in my heart,” Fred Warmbier said. “The image I have of my son is playing soccer three short years ago in high school.”