USA doctors dispute North Korean coma story

North Korea says it released Otto Warmbier on humanitarian grounds
North Korea: Otto Warmbier freed on humanitarian grounds
Author

24 June, 2017

Physicians at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said that Warmbier had suffered extensive brain damage, which is consistent with a cardiopulmonary event; not a head injury.

Warmbier's parents had relentlessly pressed - first behind the scenes and then more publicly - for their son's release. The North Koreans arrested Otto in January of 2016, saying that he stole a banner with a political slogan from the walls of his hotel. He was alleged to have stolen a propaganda and was charged with committing "crimes against the state".

The university student, who had been on a tourist trip, was sentenced to 15 years hard labor, a punishment the U.S. decried as far out of proportion to his alleged crime, accusing the North of using him as a political pawn.

Richardson, a Democrat, credited the Department of State with securing Warmbier's return from North Korea without any preconditions but said a forceful response from the US government would be required "if it's determined that there was a cover-up and Otto's condition was not disclosed and he didn't get proper treatment". Doctors described the 22-year-old's state as "unresponsive wakefulness".

Warmbier is in the intensive care unit at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

His father criticized the Obama administration on Thursday for the handling of his son's imprisonment. "We did so without result".

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced Warmbier's release on Tuesday during an appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations committee.

"Earlier this year, Cindy and I decided the time for strategic patience is over", he added, using the same phrase as Vice President Mike Pence during his April visit to the Korean peninsula.

"It is my understanding that Ambassador Yun and his team, at the direction of the President [Donald Trump], aggressively pursued resolution of the situation", Warmbier said. They have our thanks for bringing Otto home.

"I don't know what being in shock is, but I'm pretty sure I was", he said, referring to when he was informed Otto Warmbier was in a coma.

"They do not do this out of the kindness of their hearts", said Fred Warmbier.

The release came amid tension between Washington and Pyongyang following a series of missile tests by the North, focusing attention on an arms build-up that Pentagon chief Jim Mattis on Monday dubbed "a clear and present danger to all".


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