After 22-Year-Old's Death, Bucks Congressman Wants To Restrict Travel To North Korea
Bucks County's Congressman is co-sponsoring a bill that would set new restrictions on travel to North Korea by American citizens. The North Korea Travel Control Act would require a license for transactions related to travel to, from, and within North Korea by American citizens, according to the office of Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick.
The legislation comes in response to the recent death of 22-year-old Otto Warmbier, who died earlier this week just days after being released from a North Korean prison. Warmbier, a University of Virginia student, was in a coma when he was released after being detained for 18 months.
North Korean officials say Warmbier was in a coma for more than a year, but U.S. officials just learned of his condition on June 5. This was the first time the U.S. has received word of the UVA student since he was sentenced in March 2016 for "hostile acts against the state."
Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor for stealing a propaganda poster.
“North Korea is a totalitarian state sponsor of terror run by a madman willing to do anything to keep his power, including the brutal subjugation of his own people and the imprisonment and torture of foreigners – including Americans. Barring specially approved humanitarian missions, American citizens should not travel to North Korea,” said Fitzpatrick, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
At least seventeen Americans have been detained in the past ten years, including Warmbier.
In recent years, Fitzpatrick notes, there has been an increase in tourist travel to North Korea by citizens of Western countries, including the United States. "In addition, North Korea has repeatedly detained U.S. visitors to serve their own purposes. The State Department currently has limited knowledge of the number of Americans in North Korea," according to information from the congressman's office.