Family of freed student adjusting to 'different reality'

Henrietta Strickland
June 26, 2017

"We don't believe anything they (North Korea) say", Fred Warmbier said.

Yesterday we learned that University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, who was arrested and put on trial in North Korea a year ago, has been in a coma ever since then.

"I don't know what being in shock is, but I'm pretty sure I was", Fred Warmbier said about the moment the family found out Otto was in a coma.

Warmbier is in stable condition, but appears to have a "severe neurological injury" that has prevented him from speaking or making "any purposeful movements".

Warmbier, a University of Virginia student, was detained on January 2, 2016, at Pyongyang International Airport, while visiting the country as a tourist with Young Pioneer Tours.

North Korea's Central Court said earlier Thursday that Warmbier was released from a labor camp "on humanitarian grounds" - but his father flatly dismissed the court's statement.

With the emplacement of the THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea and increased pressure from the Chinese (at the behest of President Trump), North Korea is feeling the pressure.

Warmbier was serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor in North Korea.

"We are not burdened with whatever North Korea says or does any longer", he said. At the time, they had no idea their son was in a coma and sent him a message to "stay strong".

When asked if he thought President Barack Obama could have done more to help his son, Fred Warmbier replied, "The results speak for themselves".

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

He said there was no reason for North Korea to keep his son's condition, apparently dating back to March 2016, a secret and to deny him top medical care. Some media reports said the North Koreans suggested he had come down with a case of botulism and fell into a coma after being given a sleeping pill - an account questioned by a number of officials.

"Otto, I love you and I'm so insane about you, I'm so glad you're home, you are such a great guy", he continued.

The 22-year-old from Cincinnati spent more than a year in detention after being arrested for stealing a political poster from a hotel.

"Otto, I love you so much, I'm insane about you and I'm so glad you're home". Joseph Yun, Washington's special envoy on North Korea, added they were working to secure their freedom as well.

Mr Warmbier said the family was "extremely grateful for their efforts and concern".

Kelly Martin of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center says Warmbier remains in a coma after arriving at the hospital two days ago.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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