North Korea returned a young college student detained for over a year this week. He’s in a coma, and his parents don’t believe a word of North Korea’s explanation.
Otto Frederick Warmbier, a University of Virginia student, was arrested early last year for allegedly attempting to steal a political propaganda poster. He was sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor for “hostile acts” against the state. The Department of State secured his release earlier this week after it came to light that his health was rapidly deteriorating.
Warmbier returned to Cincinnati Tuesday and is now being treated at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. The comatose student’s condition is stable, but he suffered a “severe neurological injury,” according to a spokesperson from the medical facility where Warmiber is receiving care.
He reportedly fell into a coma shortly after his trial, and no one had heard anything from Warmbier for fifteen months.
“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 deny him top-notch medical care for so long,” his father, Fred Warmbier, said at a press conference Thursday.
The U.S. recently obtained intelligence reports suggesting that North Korean authorities brutally beat Warmbier while in custody, a senior American official told The New York Times. There were actually serious concerns that the young student was dead. Some American officials suspect that Warmbier’s current condition is the result of his treatment.
Warmbier’s father repeatedly stated that his son was brutalized by the pariah regime.
He explained that he and his wife Cindy are experiencing a bitter-sweet combination of emotions, “relief that Otto is now home in the arms of those who love him and anger that he was so brutally treated for so long.”
Warmbier’s father praised the Trump administration for taking “aggressive” action to bring his son home.
“It is my understanding that Ambassador Joseph Yun and his team, at the direction of the president, aggressively pursued resolution of the situation. They have our thanks for bringing Otto home,” he explained.
President Donald Trump personally called to check on the Warmbiers. “We are extremely grateful for their efforts and concern,” the father said during the press conference.
When asked if the Obama administration failed to act, he responded that the results speak for themselves.
Warmbier was detained while on a tour of North Korea with a company called Young Pioneer Tours, which openly advertises on its website that “North Korea is probably one of the safest places on Earth to visit.”
The Department of State warns Americans against traveling to North Korea, which operates with a wartime mentality and arbitrarily arrests foreigners for acts that would not normally be considered crimes in other countries. North Korea is still holding three other American citizens. Warmbier’s father has called on North Korea to release them,
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