Pacific

North Korea denies torturing American detainee Otto Warmbier

North Korea on Friday has denied it cruelly treated or tortured an American student who was detained for more than year and died days after being released in a coma.

The article published by the official Korean Central News Agency was Pyongyang's first reaction to the death of Warmbier. North Korea released him last week for what it described as humanitarian reasons and he died Monday in a U.S. hospital.

KCNA says the North dealt with Warmbier according to domestic law and international standards. He had been accused of stealing a propaganda poster and was serving a sentence of hard labor.

Warmbier returned to the U.S. last week in a coma. Pyongyang’s explanation was that he had contracted botulism. U.S. doctors, however, said he apparently suffered “respiratory distress,” and the oxygen supply to the brain was cut off.

“His neurological condition can best be described as a state of unresponsive wakefulness,” a doctor said.

President Trump declared North Korea's treatment of Warmbier "a total disgrace," and called the North Korean government is "a brutal regime."

The U.S. will "be able to handle it," Trump added.

The administration was already wrestling with option for containing an increasingly belligerent  North Korea before the shocking return of a mortally wounded Warmbier. As the rogue regime repeatedly threatened the U.S. and its regional allies, testing missiles at least nine times since Trump's election, the administration looked to China to help.

Trump signaled he could be ready for the U.S. to act alone.

"While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out," Trump tweeted.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. will "hold North Korea accountable" for Warmbier's "unjust imprisonment," and is also demanding the release of three other Americans who are being detained.

U.S. lawmakers are also calling for a response to Pyongyang.

"The North Korean regime is mistaken if it believes that its barbaric mistreatment of an American citizen held in depraved captivity for over a year will pass quietly," Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report