Doctors: Student detained in N Korea in state of 'unresponsive wakefulness'

Louis Holland
June 19, 2017

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 past year.

His visit coincided with the release of Otto Warmbier, a U.S. student sentenced to 15 years in a North Korean jail with hard labour jail for admitting to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel he was staying at.

Unlike in a coma, patients with unresponsive wakefulness syndrome are technically awake and can show small signs of eye movement, such as blinking, even if they don't display conscious awareness or reaction to their surroundings like in Warmbier's case.

Asked what he would say if he could speak directly to North Korean regime, Fred Warmbier replied: "I would say I'm so proud of Otto, my son, who has been in a pariah regime for the last 18 months, brutalised and terrorised, and he's now home with his family".

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".

North Korea claimed that Warmbier's brain damage is due to botulism, but Warmbier's doctors said Thursday they have found no evidence to support that claim.

He was sentenced to 15 years in a labour camp after a one-hour trial in March 2016. "They have our thanks for bringing Otto home", he said.

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Warmbier's father noted that the State Department under Trump administration "was negotiating pretty tough with them".

He was returned to his hometown in suburban Cincinnati in a coma.

Fred also said they followed the Obama administration to keep a low profile.

Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Otto Warmbier's doctors said he is breathing on his own but does not consistently respond to verbal cues.

A hospital official from UC Health said later today three doctors will share an update on Otto's medical condition.

The U.S. recently obtained intelligence reports suggesting that North Korean authorities repeatedly beat Warmbier while he was in custody, a senior American official told The New York Times.

Rodman is one of few Americans to have met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and has visited the country four times since 2013.

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Doctors indicate that Otto Warmbier's current state is consistent with the aftermath of cardiopulmonary arrest that deprives the brain of blood.

Later, he made it clear basketball star Dennis Rodman's visit to North Korea had nothing to do with his son's release, as many in the media have speculated.

Fred Warmbier, Otto Warmbier's father, told reporters that his 22-year-old son is "a young, thrill-seeking, great kid" who was on a trip organized by a Chinese-based company called Young Pioneer Tours.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday his department was continuing "to have discussions" with North Korea about the release of the other three imprisoned Americans.

Calls are growing for the release of the other hostages, including Hyeon Soo Lim, a South Korea-born Canadian pastor who has been detained since January 2015. "A really good trip", Dennis Rodman said upon his return.

At the moment, the State Department "strongly warns USA citizens not to travel to North Korea/the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)", according to the travel warning on its website.

"It was taken in North Korea with members of his tour group", Warmbier's younger brother Austin said as he released the video, according to The Daily Mail.

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Other reports by Info About Network

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