Published: Fri, June 16, 2017
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

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


There's no evidence of how Wambier was injured, but the brain damage looks like what happens when someone's heart stops for a long period of time, doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said. However, according to a hospital spokeswoman Kelly Martin, the 22-year-old has suffered what they term a "severe neurological injury".

Although doctors had no information about the type of medical treatment Warmbier received while in North Korea, they did receive MRI images from North Korea dated April 2016, Kanter said.

Warmbier's father Fred lashed out earlier Thursday at the North Korean regime, saying he did not believe its claim that his son contracted botulism and fell into a coma shortly after being arrested a year ago.

But they said Otto shows no current signs of botulism.

In a press conference Thursday, Dr. Daniel Kanter, professor of neurology and director of the Neurocritical Care Program, said Otto Warmbier has "severe injury to all regions of the brain" and described his current condition as "unresponsive wakefulness".

He added that it was cruel for North Korea to keep Warmbier in his comatose state for more than a year before returning him to the U.S. "I call on them to release the other Americans". His family have said he was "terrorised and brutalised" by Kim Jong-Un's regime.

North Korea now has three other Americans in custody, two of whom were detained earlier this year.

"We were advised by the past administration to take a low profile", and not do anything to offend the North Koreans, Warmbier said. It has been widely speculated that Warmbier's injuries were sustained from beatings from North Korean officials, however, the evidence thus far does not support that. He was then taken by ambulance to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

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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".

Residents of the northern Cincinnati suburb tied blue-and-white ribbons, the school colors, to trees near the family's home.

The 22-year-old University of Virginia student, who is now in a coma, was freed for humanitarian reasons, according to a one-line report from a North Korean news agency Thursday.

He said he was "stunned" that nobody in the USA government, or the tour group of which he was a part, ever contacted him for questioning after Warmbier was detained. "But I did take the call, and it was gracious, and it was nice, and I thank him for that".

"We don't believe anything they (North Korea) say", said Fred Warmbier, who was wearing a sport coat that Otto Warmbier had worn during a confession to his crimes a year ago in North Korea that was broadcast.

"North Korea is a pariah regime", Fred said about the country who deemed his son as a "war criminal".

The New York Times previously cited a senior USA official as saying Washington had received intelligence reports Mr Warmbier was repeatedly beaten while held captive in North Korea.

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