Target: U.S. President Barack Obama
Goal: Facilitate release of imprisoned American student.
Otto Frederick Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia student, was recently sentenced to 15 years hard labor by North Korean authorities. His crime? Allegedly taking down a political poster from his hotel in Pyongyang, the country’s capital.
Warmbier recently arrived in North Korea with a tour group organized by a Chinese travel agency. As he was getting on a plane to leave, he was detained and charged with committing crimes against the state. A video then surfaced showing a visibly distraught Warmbier reading a clearly scripted “confession,” in which he stated that he was “lured by the United States administration to commit a crime” against North Korea.
After a trial that reportedly lasted only one hour, Warmbier was convicted of committing a “hostile act” against the regime and led away in shackles. According to Greg Scarlatoui, who heads the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, Warmbier “may spend his day planting apple trees. It will be fairly grueling forced labor.”
This punishment is beyond excessive considering the trivial nature of Warmbier’s alleged crime. In the past, the U.S. has managed to free Americans convicted of similar offenses in North Korea. Please sign the petition below urging President Obama to do everything in his power to redress this horrible miscarriage of justice.
I was disturbed to learn that an American student, Otto Frederick Warmbier, was recently sentenced by North Korean authorities to 15 years imprisonment and hard labor. Considering his alleged crime—removing a poster from the wall of his hotel—this is a grotesque violation of Mr. Warmbier’s basic human rights. I cannot imagine the level of stress and terror he is experiencing as a result.
Given that Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller were both freed from similar circumstances in 2014, I have confidence that Mr. Warmbier’s situation will be corrected. I respectfully urge you to work with U.S. and North Korean authorities to secure his release as soon as possible.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Dylan Oliphant