Family Otto Warmbier, a student at the University of Virginia who spent a year in a labor camp, Korea, fell into a coma and died soon after returning home, hid their Jewishness in the hope to alleviate the plight of the prisoner: they believed that this circumstance will complicate the negotiations.
About it writes on Thursday, June 22, edition of The Times of Israel.
Lawyer Mickey Bergman, representing the interests of the family, said in an interview: «That’s their business, and really, you shouldn’t have to advertise the nationality, if your goal is to get him out. It would be ridiculous to divert attention to this kind of claim.»
Otto Warmbier was arrested in North Korea in January last year for stealing a propaganda poster and was sentenced to 15 years in labor camps. North Korean authorities released a prisoner under pressure from the international community after it became known about the catastrophic deterioration of his health.
Otto was active in the campus Hillel at the University of Virginia and took care of the members of the Jewish community, reported the website of the newspaper the Jerusalem Post, citing the campus Rabbi Jake Rubin.
In 2014, Warmbier visited Israel under the Birthright movement. He visited the fortress «Masada», got a Hebrew name and under the impression of this trip became an activist in the Jewish community, the newspaper writes.
The movement organizes Birthright trips to Israel for those who consider themselves Jewish and has at least one Jewish parent or convert to Judaism was.
On the question of nationality Warmbier Rabbi Rubin refused to answer, noting only that he was a favorite of the campus, observed the Sabbath, celebrated the Jewish holidays and even hosted a Passover Seder for students.