Student freed from North Korea suffered 'severe neurological injury'

Elias Hubbard
June 26, 2017

The 22-year-old was released from North Korea Tuesday and admitted to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where a rep says he has experienced a "severe neurological injury", reports CNN.

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

His parents found out he was in a coma just a week before he was released, something Fred Warmbier said threw him into a state of "shock".

"He fought to stay alive through the worst the North Koreans put him through", Warmbier said.

"The fact that he was taken and treated this way is awful and it's tough to process, but we're tremendously proud of him", Fred Warmbier said of his son. When asked about his son's condition, he replied, "We are making him comfortable". Mr. Warmbier said he gave "a good performance" and that they were proud of the way their son handled the situation.

Pyongyang officials have said Warmbier fell into a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill.

Warmbier's doctors held a press conference on Thursday that starkly contrasted North Korea's explanation of his condition.

"The burden of our ordeal has been eased by the support we have experienced, not only from our friends in Cincinnati, but through OH, at the University of Virginia, throughout the United States and, indeed, from around the world", Warmbier said. "I'm dealing with my son", Fred Warmbier said.

The U.S. government this week issued a rare alert squarely blaming the North Korean government for a raft of cyber attacks stretching back to 2009 and warning that more were likely.

US President Donald Trump spoke to Fred Warmbier on Wednesday night (Thursday NZT), Warmbier said. One reporter asked if Warmbier thought the Obama administration could have done more for Otto, and the teary-eyed father responded critically, saying, "The results speak for themselves".

Warmbier's parents only learned of their son's condition last week. Warmbier is the 22-year-old American who was held hostage in North Korea for more than a year before returning home to OH this week in a coma.

"I want my kid home. It was kind", Fred Warmbier said.

Otto had been serving a 15-year sentence with hard labor in North Korea, but was released early, with the Korean Central News Agency reporting Thursday that his release was for "humanitarian reasons". "We went for 15 months without a word from or about Otto".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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