Published: Sat, June 17, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

Student freed by North Korea has severe neurological injury

Student freed by North Korea has severe neurological injury

Former North Korea detainee and United States college student Otto Warmbier is in stable condition but has suffered a "severe neurological injury", University of Cincinnati Medical Center spokeswoman Kelly Martin said Thursday.

According to the hospital treating him, the 22-year-old suffered severe neurological injury during more than a year of detention in the isolated country, for stealing a political poster from a hotel.

He returned home to OH on Tuesday in a coma after being "brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime", his family said in a statement.

The North's KCNA news agency said in a one-sentence dispatch that Warmbier's release followed a court decision on Tuesday. Trump discussed how U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Joseph Yun, the U.S. State Department's special envoy on North Korea, worked together to help secure Otto's release, Warmbier said.

Dennis Rodman has delivered a message from President Donald Trump to North Korea - sort of.

(AP Photo/John Minchillo). Fred Warmbier, father of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia undergraduate student who was imprisoned in North Korea in March 2016, speaks during a news conference, Thursday, June 15, 2017, at Wyoming High School in Cinci.

An American college student, who had been detained in North Korea for 17 months, has been freed after a reported visit by a US State Department official to Pyongyang and backdoor negotiations between the two sides.

It took months of "quiet diplomacy", a change in USA presidents and an American diplomat's extraordinary, secret visit to Pyongyang to bring Otto Warmbier home.

Spokeswoman Heather Nauert (NOW'-ert) says the US hopes the other Americans will be able to return home soon.

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"His skin was in good condition, and he was well-nourished when he arrived at our facility", Kanter said.

Rodman and his small entourage have been spending time with young North Korean basketball players and visiting local sights. Warmbier said the family was "extremely grateful for their efforts and concern".

Warmbier has extensive loss of brain tissue, a condition that can often occur as a result of cardio-pulmonary arrest which cuts off the supply of blood to the brain for a period of time resulting in the death of brain tissue, Kanter said.

"I know you have many questions about what transpired".

His family was told that his condition was the result of botulism, a rare bacterial infection, and taking a sleeping pill.

Warmbier said that his son's return has been bittersweet.

Fred Warmbier, in an emotional news conference in OH, did not demur when asked if Obama could have done more. "And so we're looking to the future", said the father. North Korea released Otto on Tuesday, purportedly for "humanitarian reasons".

Doctors will share further information about Otto Warmbier's medical condition in a separate news conference Thursday afternoon, Martin said. He added that it "says a lot about North Korea" for an athlete to be able to bring home a medal.

Fred Warmbier appeared critical of the Obama administration's handling of Otto's detention, saying the family heeded the USA government's initial advice to take a low profile "without result". But we're tremendously proud of him. North Korea accuses Washington and South Korea of sending spies to overthrow its government.

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