Freed stu­dent has neu­ro­log­i­cal in­jury

Fam­ily leery of North Korean ex­pla­na­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - NA­TION - BY DAKE KANG AND DAN SEWELL

WYOMING, OHIO | An Amer­i­can col­lege stu­dent who was im­pris­oned in North Korea and re­turned to his home state of Ohio in a coma suf­fered a “se­vere neu­ro­log­i­cal in­jury,” a hos­pi­tal spokes­woman said Thurs­day.

Otto Warm­bier is in stable con­di­tion at the Univer­sity of Cincin­nati Med­i­cal Cen­ter with his mother by his side, hos­pi­tal spokes­woman Kelly Martin said.

His fa­ther, Fred Warm­bier, said he does not be­lieve North Korea’s ex­pla­na­tion that the coma re­sulted from bot­u­lism and a sleep­ing pill. He said there was no rea­son for North Korea to keep his 22-year-old son’s con­di­tion a se­cret and deny him top med­i­cal care.

Fred Warm­bier called his son’s re­turn bit­ter­sweet. “Re­lief that Otto is now home in the arms of those who love him and anger that he was so bru­tally treated for so long,” he said at a news con­fer­ence at Wyoming High School, where Otto grad­u­ated in 2013 as class salu­ta­to­rian and played soc­cer.

Blue-and-white rib­bons in the school’s col­ors were tied around the trees and util­ity poles all the way along the city’s main road in a show of sup­port.

To honor his son, Fred Warm­bier wore the same jacket Otto wore when North Korea pre­sented him be­fore the me­dia on Feb. 29, 2016, at an event where he tear­fully con­fessed that he tried to steal a pro­pa­ganda ban­ner while vis­it­ing the coun­try. He was last seen pub­licly that March, when he was sen­tenced for sub­ver­sion to 15 years in prison with hard la­bor.

Fred Warm­bier said that he doesn’t know why North Korea re­leased his son but that the coun­try doesn’t do any­thing out of “the kind­ness of their hearts.” He called on the coun­try to re­lease three other Amer­i­cans cur­rently held there.

“There’s no ex­cuse for the way the North Kore­ans treated our son,” he said.

Mr. Warm­bier also ac­cused North Korea of lur­ing Amer­i­cans to the coun­try with a Chi­nese tour com­pany mak­ing the false prom­ise they will never be de­tained.

He said he re­ceived “a very nice phone call” Wed­nes­day evening from Pres­i­dent Trump, who said Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son worked hard to bring Otto home and asked how the fam­ily was do­ing. Mr. Warm­bier said the fam­ily was “ex­tremely grate­ful for their ef­forts and con­cern.”

He said he and his wife grew frus­trated with the lack of word about their son from for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, which they said in­structed them to keep a low pro­file to avoid up­set­ting the North Kore­ans.

Asked whether he thought the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion could have done more, Mr. Warm­bier replied: “I think the re­sults speak for them­selves.”

Mr. Warm­bier told Fox News’ Tucker Carl­son on Wed­nes­day that Otto was “ter­ror­ized and bru­tal­ized” dur­ing his 17-month de­ten­tion and has been in a coma for more than a year.

“The day after he was sen­tenced, he went into a coma,” the fa­ther said in an in­ter­view sched­uled to air Thurs­day night. He said he and his wife, Cindy, only learned of their son’s con­di­tion last week.

The Univer­sity of Vir­ginia stu­dent was med­i­cally evac­u­ated from North Korea and ar­rived in Cincin­nati late Tues­day. He was then taken by am­bu­lance to the Univer­sity of Cincin­nati Med­i­cal Cen­ter.

In its first of­fi­cial com­ment since Otto Warm­bier was re­turned home, North Korea said it re­leased him for hu­man­i­tar­ian rea­sons. The state-run Korean Cen­tral News Agency on Thurs­day did not com­ment on his med­i­cal con­di­tion.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

“Re­lief that Otto is now home in the arms of those who love him and anger that he was so bru­tally treated for so long,” said Fred Warm­bier, fa­ther a stu­dent who was im­pris­oned in North Korea.

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