Doctors in Cincinnati say an American college student who was imprisoned in North Korea suffered a severe neurological injury.
Otto Warmbier’s father, Fred, said today that he does not believe North Korea’s claim that his son’s coma resulted from “botulism and a sleeping pill”. 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.
The 22 year old was held prisoner in North Korea for 18 months, sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly attempting to steal a political poster from his hotel.
The father said there was no reason for the country to keep his 22 year old son’s condition a secret and deny him top medical care. The Warmbiers did not learn of their son’s medical condition until last month.
Mr. Warmbier mentioned that he was angry the family had to be so careful about what they said regarding North Korea while their son was being held captive. They were warned not to say anything bad about the leaders or the country, or they might do something to harm their son. “Now,” he said, “we don’t have to live in fear. We can say whatever we want.”
He also called his son’s return bittersweet. When asked about his son’s condition, he replied, “We are making him comfortable.” Fred Warmbier added that it was a “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.”