USA student, freed from North Korea with neurological injury, was 'brutalized' - father

Ivan Schwartz
June 20, 2017

"That's not my goal right now", he said. "He has not engaged in any purposeful movements or behaviors".

The story volunteered by North Korean officials - that Warmbier suffered from botulism (a kind of food poisoning), took a sleeping pill, and never woke up - could not be verified and did not hold up to medical scrutiny, the doctors said. He was visiting North Korea with a tour group.

Doctors have little information about what happened to him prior to his release as they've had no contact with North Korean medical authorities.

Warmbier, a University of Virginia student, was "brutalised and terrorised" by the North Korean regime, his father Fred Warmbier said at the news conference, two days after his son arrived in OH on a medical evacuation flight.

The assessment comes after North Korea's state news agency reported the government had released Warmbier on humanitarian grounds.

Fred Warmbier spoke out at a press conference Wednesday while wearing his son Otto's blazer.

The doctors said Warmbier's severe brain injury was most likely - given his young age - to have been caused by cardiopulmonary arrest cutting the blood supply to the brain.

Mr. Warmbier mentioned that he was angry the family had to be so careful about what they said regarding North Korea while their son was being held captive. There are now three United States aircraft carriers within striking range of North Korea, meaning that the United States is essentially prepared for serious military conflict with North Korea. Pyongyang has vowed to develop a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the USA mainland.

Dr. Daniel Kanter is a member of Warmbier's medical team, and he said the most important test was an MRI of Warmbier's brain.

"I don't know what being in shock is, but I'm pretty sure I was", he said.

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"Even if you believe their explanation of botulism and a sleeping pill causing the coma - and we don't - there's no excuse for a civilised nation to have kept his condition secret and to have denied him top notch medical care".

Otto Warmbier, 22, is from Cincinnati, Ohio and was born to Fred and Cindy Warmbier on December 12, 1994.

Doctors plan a news conference on campus later Thursday. Blue-and-white ribbons were tied around trees and utility poles along the main road.

Warmbier has been serving a 15-year sentence for "anti-state" activities, which he was sentenced to after attempting to take down a propaganda poster in his hotel.

"I knelt down by his side and I hugged him and I told him I missed him and I was so glad that he made it home", Fred Warmbier said.

The State Department is continuing to discuss three other detained Americans with North Korea.

Warmbier was released Tuesday from North Korea, where he had been jailed for more than 17 months.

After restating the question for other reporters who could not hear it, Warmbier gave a quick answer.

"The way they treated Otto Warmbier is consistent with how North Korea treats its own citizens", said Ruggiero, a former U.S. Treasury official who works at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington thinktank.

Other reports by GizPress

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