Yesterday we learned that University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, who was arrested and put on trial in North Korea last year, has been in a coma ever since then. Warmbier was released Monday on humanitarian grounds. Today, his doctors in the U.S. revealed that Warmbier has a severe neurological injury. From the Associated Press:
An American college student who was imprisoned in North Korea and returned to his home state of Ohio in a coma suffered a “severe neurological injury,” a hospital spokeswoman said Thursday.
Otto Warmbier is in stable condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center with his mother by his side, hospital spokeswoman Kelly Martin said. Doctors planned an update later Thursday.
Warmbier’s father, Fred, said at a press conference Thursday that he doesn’t believe North Korea’s explanation about what happened to his son.”Even if you believe their explanation of botulism and a sleeping pill causing the coma, and we don’t, there is no excuse for any civilized nation to have kept his condition secret and denied him top notch medical care for so long,” he said. Later in answer to a question, Warmbier said his son had been “taken hostage” by the North Korean regime.
Fred Warmbier also offered some criticism of the Obama administration. “When Otto was first taken we were advised by the previous administration to take a low profile while they worked to obtain his release. We did so withour result,” he said. Warbier continued, “Earlier this year, Cindy and I decided that the time for strategic patience was over and we made a few media appearances and traveled to Washington to meet with ambassador Joe Yun at the State Department.
“It is my understanding that Ambassador Yun and his team, at the direction of the president, aggressively pursued resolution of the situation. They have our thanks for bringing Otto home.”
Asked later if he believes the past administration could have done more, Fred Warmbier replied, “I think the results speak for themselves.” Here’s Fred Warmbier’s full statement. As he mentions at the beginning of this, he’s wearing the same jacket his son wore during his show trial in North Korea last year.