McCain says Americans ‘stupid’ enough to travel to North Korea should sign waiver

In this April 28, 2016 file photo, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

WASHINGTON (CBS) – Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, says Americans who are “stupid” enough to want to visit North Korea should be required to sign a waiver absolving the U.S. government of any blame if they’re harmed while they are in the country.

“There should at least be a form for them to fill out that says, ‘If I go to North Korea, I understand I am taking great risk, and I do not hold the American government responsible,'” McCain said, a day after the death of American student Otto Warmbier.

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He says “if people are that stupid that they still want to go to that country, then at least they assume the responsibility for their welfare.”

U.S. college student Otto Warmbier died Monday, days after his release from North Korea.

His parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, said in a statement that he died surrounded by loved ones at 2:20 p.m. on Monday.

“It would be easy at a moment like this to focus on all that we lost — future time that won’t be spent with a warm, engaging, brilliant young man whose curiosity and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds. But we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person,” the family said in a statement.

Warmbier was detained in January 2016 while visiting North Korea at the end of a five-day tour. He was later sentenced to 15 years hard labor for allegedly stealing a propaganda banner at his hotel.

McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement on Monday that Warmbier “lived the nightmare in which the North Korean people have been trapped for 70 years: forced labor, mass starvation, systematic cruelty, torture, and murder.” His statement also said that the U.S. “cannot and should not tolerate the murder of its citizens by hostile powers.”

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