Otto Warmbier’s North Korea roommate speaks out By Josh Rogin June 15 washingtonpost.com
“..Until now, Gratton has not spoken publicly about the case. He was never contacted by the U.S. government or the tour company that arranged the visit. His recollections form a part of the story that speaks to Warmbier’s innocence and further undermines the North Korean government’s version of events. His message is that Warmbier was an innocent victim of a cruel and evil regime and did nothing to warrant his sad fate.
“Otto was just a really great lad who fell into the most horrendous situation that no one could ever believe,” Gratton told me in an interview Thursday. “It’s just something I think in the Western world we just can’t understand, we just can’t grasp, the evilness behind that dictatorship.”..
The charge was that Warmbier allegedly went into a staff-only area of the hotel and tore down a propaganda banner hanging on the wall, intending to steal it. Two months later, North Korean state media broadcast a staged event showing a tearful Warmbier confessing to that crime and begging for forgiveness, clearly under duress….
…Gratton said that in the four days they spent together, Warmbier never said anything about a banner and that he saw zero evidence that Warmbier was planning any such act — quite the opposite. The first Gratton heard of the alleged attempted theft was when it was mentioned in news reports weeks later. Gratton and Warmbier weren’t together 24 hours each day, but they traveled together during the day and hung out each night…”