A plane with Otto Warmbier, the AMERICAN college student is arrested, tried and imprisoned in North Korea for more than a year, and who is now in a coma, landed in his hometown of Cincinnati Tuesday night, and he was rushed to a hospital for emergency medical treatment.
The AMERICAN military flight landed at Lunken Airport at about 10:20 p.m. ET and was met by an ambulance on the way to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
A U.S. official confirmed to Fox News that Warmbier, 22, was in a coma and had been for “over a year.” The official added that the North Koreans told the US that Warmbier contracted botulism before slipping into a coma. However, the two AMERICAN doctors traveling with him have not been able to confirm that claim, the official said.
The New York Times, citing an unnamed senior Us official said that the U.S. had received intelligence reports in recent weeks that Warmbier was repeatedly beaten.
Warmbier has served a little more than a year of his 15-year sentence — reportedly for taking down a character of the dictator Kim Jong Il while he was in the country with a tour group
Neighbor Tom Purdy described him on Fox News as ” a great kid – really excellent… an athlete, a national merit scholar and prom king. He is great.”
“We are very concerned for his health and the future. We hope that he can return to normal. We have prayed for him every night.”
Blue and white ribbons lined the streets in the neighbourhood of the parental home.
A group of students tennis outside of Wyoming high school, who Warmbier visited, said he was known in the community as “an outstanding student” and a “great guy”. While happy that he has returned home, a student said that he was “heartbreaking to learn that he is in a coma.”
His medical evacuation was followed by a brief flurry of diplomatic activity that relate to the highest level of the State Department.
“In the direction of the president, the Ministry of foreign affairs secured the release of Otto Warmbier of North Korea,” Secretary of state Rex Tillerson said. “Mr. Warmbier is on its way to the United States, where he is reunited with his family. The Ministry of foreign affairs still talks with north korea about three other AMERICAN citizens reported to be detained. Out of respect for the privacy of Mr. Warmbier and his family, we have no further comment on Mr. Warmbier.”
Warmbier’s parents, who appeared on Fox News Channel in the past to advocate for their son, expressed somber gratitude.
“Our son is home,” Fred Warmbier told The Washington Post Tuesday morning, after his son was evacuated from North Korea. “At the moment we’re just treating this like he’s been in an accident. We see that our son, Otto tonight.”
Top U.S. officials were quick to express disgust at North Korea’s reported abuse of the student.
“Otto’s imprisonment and the sentence was unnecessary and terrible, and North Korea should be universally condemned for his atrocious behaviour,” Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a statement. “Otto, are released from the start. For North Korea to imprison Otto without notice or consular access for more than a year is the greatest example of the complete failure to recognize basic human rights and human dignity.”
“Otto is in a coma for over a year now and is in urgent need of proper medical care in the United States,” former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who worked for Warmbier’s release with its Center for Global Engagement, said in a statement obtained by Fox News. “We got a phone call from Cindy and Fred Warmbier early today to us on Otto’s condition. In no uncertain terms North Korea should give insight into the causes of his coma.”
Warmbier was held on Jan. 2, 2016, at the Pyongyang International Airport, during a visit to the country as a tourist with Young Pioneer Tours. He was charged with stealing the sign of a staff-only floor in the Yanggakdo International Hotel in Pyongyang, and the committing of “crimes against the state.” He got a one-hour test in March 2016, when the government presented fingerprints, CCTV footage and photos of a political banner to the case against the American student.
“I hope you see how I am also but a man,” Warmbier said at his trial. “And how have I made the biggest mistake of my life.”
Despite his entreaties, the student was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. In a post-trial video to be released to the world, Warmbier, under the obvious duress, praised his captors for his treatment and for the treatment of the case “fair and square.”
Aliens who are detained or imprisoned in the Hermit Kingdom often have a shared experience: confusion, forced confessions, communication blackouts and insulation.
Warmbier’s release release three U.S. citizens currently known to be held in North Korea: accounting professor Kim Sang Duk, businessman Kim Dong-Chul and Kim Hak-Song, who worked at Pyongyang University.
AMERICANS RELEASED FROM NORTH KOREAN CAPTIVITY BACK ON US SOIL
Warmbier ‘ s release comes amid a worsening of the tensions between the US and North Korea, largely by Pyongyang continued to test nuclear capable missiles.
The U.S. has no diplomatic relations in North Korea.
Now former NBA star Dennis Rodman, a self-described friend Kim Jong-Un, who recently landed in North Korea on a non-U.S.-flag mission to which he said, was aimed at promoting sport in the isolated country.