President Donald Trump on Thursday acknowledged the grieving parents of Otto Warmbier during an early morning ceremony to welcome home three Americans freed from North Korea.
"It's a very important thing to all of us to be able to get these three great people out. I must tell you, I want to pay my warmest respects to the parents of Otto Warmbier, who is a great young man who really suffered," Trump said.
He praised the "incredible" family and said both he and Vice President Mike Pence spoke with them earlier.
Warmbier was an American college student captured in 2016 by North Korean authorities after being accused of stealing a propaganda poster. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor. He was the last American to be freed from the communist country.
He died days after he was repatriated back to the U.S. in June 2017 after suffering from brain damage induced by torture.
In an interview with "Fox & Friends" last year, his parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, opened up about their son's condition when released. They said Otto was blind and deaf, with mangled teeth. He jerked violently on a stretcher and moaned.
The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the North Korean government last month accusing it of forcing "him to falsely 'confess' to an act of subversion on behalf of the United States government."
The suit states the regime "tortured him, kept him in detention for a year and a half without allowing him to communicate with his family, and returned him to them in a non-responsive state and brain dead."
The Warmbiers released a statement on Wednesday in the wake of the arrival of the three newly freed Americans, saying "We are happy for the hostages and their families."
“We miss Otto," the family added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.