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Man Who Negotiated Otto Warmbier’s Release Defends Trump’s Comments About Kim Jong Un

Mickey Bergman, the former Israeli Defense Forces paratrooper famous for negotiating the release of United States citizen Otto Warmbier from a North Korean prison, said he agrees with President Donald Trump that Kim Jong Un very likely did not have anything to do with Warmbier’s treatment.

“I don’t think that the top leadership knew about it. I don’t believe that [Kim] would have allowed that to happen. Just wasn’t to his advantage to allow that to happen,” Trump had told reporters at the close of his summit with the North Korean leader Thursday. “Those prisons are rough. They’re rough places, and bad things happened. But I really don’t believe he knew about it.”

Bergman said Trump could have articulated his words more clearly, but that he is correct: it is very unlikely that Kim was behind the grotesque conditions that led to Warmbier’s death. He noted Warmbier was the first American to which this had happened.

“I don’t believe they had any interest in Otto getting to the condition that he did,” he told Fox News’ Heather Childers Thursday. “The evidence that I have for this is that it’s the only American prisoner to which it happened to, and that was an anomaly. Typically American prisoners and hostages and detainees get back more or less in one piece.”

The former paratrooper said that after Warmbier was released, the North Korean Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs told him personally that North Korean officials did not know what was happening to the young American prisoner, and that his North Korean correspondents had made an effort to emphasize the North Koreans valued their relationship to the U.S.

Childers asked why he’d believe the North Korean dictator’s words about Warmbier when Kim was the kind of person who’d have his own family members killed. Bergman answered he does not think Kim is lying.

“I think there’s a distinction here between not being aware that it happened to saying that this was not intentional, it was an incident, a mistake, something went wrong, whatever happened there, which we don’t know what happened– the leader is saying this was not intention,” said Bergman.

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