Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
World | By Carl Welch

Doctors: Ex-North Korea detainee has severe brain injury

Doctors: Ex-North Korea detainee has severe brain injury

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

The doctors said Warmbier's severe brain injury was most likely - given his young age - to have been caused by cardiopulmonary arrest cutting the blood supply to the brain.

But Dr Daniel Kanter, senior intensive care director at the University of Cincinnati, said Warmbier "shows no sign of understanding language, responding to verbal commands or awareness of his surrounding". "U.S. citizens in the DPRK are at serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea's system of law enforcement", the State Department travel warning reads, "This system imposes unduly harsh sentences for actions that would not be considered crimes in the United States and threatens USA citizen detainees with being treated in accordance with 'wartime law of the DPRK'". Earlier Thursday, Fred Warmbier said he rejected the regime's explanation that his son fell into a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill in March 2016 after his trial for trying to steal a political banner. Though they could not say with certainty what caused his injuries, they found no evidence to support the botulism claim.

For his alleged crime, Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. A Young Pioneer Tours official told a news site that focuses on the region that only one person - Otto Warmbier - has ever been arrested among the 8,000-plus global travelers who have taken part in the company's tours.

Hundreds of thousands of people, including children, are detained in the inhumane political prisons and other detention facilities in North Korea and forced to work in its mines.

The father said his entire family was "brutalized and terrorized" by the pariah regime in Kim Jong Un's leadership, and lauded his son for his bravery and courage after going through a lot at the hands of North Koreans.

Frank Warmbier said he felt "anger that he was so brutally treated for so long", referring to his son, but was relieved he is "now home in the arms of those who love him". He said Obama "worked through every avenue available" to try to secure Warmbier's release. The earliest images of his brain they received from North Korea are dated April 2016, Kanter said. Shortly after Warmbier's sentencing, Kim Dong-chul, was arrested on accusations of espionage, and has been held ever since.

The parents of Otto Warmbier have spoken at a press event in Cincinnati on Thursday to share information about their son.

Bill Richardson, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, called for an investigation into what happened to Warmbier leading to this "tragic situation".

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

In his first public interview, Danny Gratton of Staffordshire, England, told The Washington Post he met Warmbier in Beijing in late December 2015 as part of a tour group traveling to North Korea - and was his roommate in Pyongyang.

"He was arrested, tried on spurious charges and evidently subjected to horrendous mistreatment by the North Korean authorities", an editorial said Wednesday.

A Dayton physician spoke about the type of severe brain injury sustained by college student Otto Warmbier while detained in North Korean.

"I got to know Otto really, really well".

In pictures and videos from his time in North Korea, Warmbier can be seen smiling and enjoying himself.

Gratton also said he had no clue that Warmbier had taken the sign from the hotel lobby.

Rodman has previously described his visits, including one in 2013 with the Harlem Globetrotters, as "basketball diplomacy" but has been roundly criticised for failing to raise human rights issues.

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