Surveillance footage purportedly showing Otto Warmbier stealing a political slogan from the North Korea hotel he was staying at has emerged.
But is it really the American student in the video?
The 21-year-old University of Virginia student was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment with hard labor on Wednesday for stealing a poster— an act deemed as U.S. political propaganda by the North Korean Supreme Court.
The poster featured the slogan, “Let's arm ourselves strongly with Kim Jong-il patriotism!” Reference to the former leader is treated as sacrosanct.
Partially censored images of the now-infamous banner have now been released by a North Korean new agency, along with decidedly grainy CCTV footage.
The video shows an indistinguishable someone in a restricted area of a hotel in Pyongyang, walking to the wall and removing the rectangular slogan— which the North Korean government alleges is Otto Warmbier himself, even though his face is not discernible.
But it wouldn’t be surprising to find out the video has been doctored. North Korea has a long — and absurd — history of tampering with images, usually for political propaganda.
The United States does not have diplomatic relations with North Korea and this isn’t the first time the country has detained Americans over alleged crimes.