Hancocks Kenneth Bae says North Korea may have tortured Otto Warmbier _00005024.jpg
CNN
Hancocks Kenneth Bae says North Korea may have tortured Otto Warmbier _00005024.jpg
Now playing
02:32
Kenneth Bae: Warmbier may have been tortured
AirTag
Apple
AirTag
Now playing
01:17
See AirTag, Apple's new device for tracking your lost stuff
ABC/Fremantle North America/19 Entertainment
Now playing
01:27
Katy Perry consoles 'Idol' contestant after he flubs lyric
NASA/JPL
Now playing
01:29
Watch the Ingenuity helicopter's first flight on Mars
Marvel Entertainment
Now playing
01:13
Marvel introduces first Asian superhero in new trailer
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Now playing
01:08
Video shows child getting caught under Peloton treadmill
CNN
Now playing
02:56
Watch Anderson Cooper belly laugh with Cheri Oteri
Brooke Baldwin last show goodbye CNN newsroom vpx_00000217.png
CNN
Brooke Baldwin last show goodbye CNN newsroom vpx_00000217.png
Now playing
03:56
'Get a little uncomfortable': See Brooke Baldwin's last words on air
US Navy
Now playing
01:28
Pentagon confirms UFO video is real, taken by Navy pilot
Now playing
01:24
How Kyra Sedgwick got the cops called on Tom Cruise
Fancy Feast/Purina
Now playing
01:06
Cat food company makes a cookbook ... for humans
Google Earth's new timelapse feature
Google
Google Earth's new timelapse feature
Now playing
01:09
Google Earth's new Timelapse feature shows 40 years of climate change in just seconds
Twitter | @brady9dream
Now playing
02:10
Pet owners pitch their pups to be dog brew's 'Chief Tasting Officer'
FOX/"The Masked Singer"
Now playing
01:23
'The Masked Singer' reveals identity of The Orca
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07:  A visual representation of the digital Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin on December 07, 2017 in London, England. Cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Lightcoin have seen unprecedented growth in 2017, despite remaining extremely volatile. While digital currencies across the board have divided opinion between financial institutions, and now have a market cap of around 175 Billion USD, the crypto sector coninues to grow, as it continues to see wider mainstreem adoption. The price of one Bitcoin passed 15,000 USD across many exchanges today taking it higher than previous all time highs.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07: A visual representation of the digital Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin on December 07, 2017 in London, England. Cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Lightcoin have seen unprecedented growth in 2017, despite remaining extremely volatile. While digital currencies across the board have divided opinion between financial institutions, and now have a market cap of around 175 Billion USD, the crypto sector coninues to grow, as it continues to see wider mainstreem adoption. The price of one Bitcoin passed 15,000 USD across many exchanges today taking it higher than previous all time highs. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:10
Bitcoin has an energy problem
The new all-electric Mercedes-EQS
Mercedes-Benz AG
The new all-electric Mercedes-EQS
Now playing
01:05
See the new all-electric EQS luxury sedan from Mercedes

Story highlights

Kenneth Bae survived two years in North Korean captivity

Bae says he was threatened a few times during his imprisonment, never tortured

(CNN) —  

Kenneth Bae, the US citizen detained by North Korea for two years, says he believes it is possible the late Otto Warmbier could have been tortured during his captivity in the communist country.

In an interview Wednesday with CNN in Seoul, Bae said he was threatened a few times during his 735 days in a North Korean prison but never tortured.

Warmbier’s parents said they believe their son was subjected to “awful, torturous mistreatment” by the North Korean regime.

Warmbier, 22, a University of Virginia student, died Monday in Cincinnati, less than a week after his release from North Korea. He could not speak or move voluntarily when he returned, and his doctors said he suffered extensive brain damage.

Asked whether Bae thinks Warmbier was physically mistreated given the threats he received in captivity, Bae said it is possible the college student was “threatened” or that he was “physically tortured or attacked.”

“It didn’t happen to me,” Bae said. “There’s no way for me to know that for sure.”

Authorities used a particularly ominous threat with prisoners, Bae said: “If you don’t follow there will be something worse that will happen to you.”

“So I do believe that something like that could have happened to other detainees at this point because of what has happened to Otto. I am worried about other detainees, what they go through,” he said.

Warmbier visited North Korea in January 2016 on a sightseeing tour. He was arrested for allegedly stealing a political sign from a restricted area and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

The cause of Warmbier’s death is not known, and his family objected to an autopsy, a request the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office in Ohio honored.

Last week, his treating physicians in Cincinnati said he suffered from unresponsive wakefulness, a condition also known as persistent vegetative state.

In a news conference before Warmbier’s death, they said they could not speculate on the cause of his condition.

But they cast doubt on North Korea’s assertion he fell into a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill.

Bae was the longest-held U.S. citizen in North Korea since the Korean War – first detained in 2012 and released two years later. In 2013, he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for committing unspecified “hostile acts” in the country.

Warmbier was “probably terrified” during his ordeal, Bae said.

The Trump administration worked to secure Warmbier’s return to the United States. Three Americans remain detained in North Korea.

Bae said he hopes President Donald Trump will “take a stand with the North Korean government,” demand the release of all detainees and deal with “human rights violations.”

“Every life is very important, Otto Warmbier’s life is very important, (so are) all the detainees and 24 million people living under such a terrible state right now,” he said.