CINCINNATI, Ohio – The father of Otto Warmbier said that his son, who was imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months before they return home in a coma this week, “fought to stay alive” during his ordeal.
Fred Warmbier also dismissed what efforts were made in behalf of his 22-year-old son of Otto by the Obama administration, who asked the family to keep a low profile when news of Otto’s arrest became public.
“The results speak for themselves,” he said at a press conference.
At the same press conference, a spokeswoman for the University of Cincinnati Medical Center reported that Otto was suffering from a “serious neurological damage” and in “satisfactory” condition.
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Warmbier arrives at the airport in his hometown of Cincinnati after 17 months in a North Korean prison.
Warmbier said his son “fought to stay alive”, while in capitivity since January 2016.
“Otto is a fighter,” he said. “I’m so proud of Otto, my son, who is in a pariah regime for the last 18 months – brutalized and terrorized.”
“His spirit is with us, and I can share in his spirit with my spirit,” said Warmbier, who wear the very same light-coloured blazer and his son wore during his trial in North Korea in March 2016.
Warmbier, a University of Virginia student, was arrested 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.
North Korea is a pariah regime. They are brutal and they are terrorist… We can’t believe what they say.
– Fred Warmbier, father of the AMERICAN student held in North Korea for 15 months
“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.”
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Fred Warmbier lashed out at North Korea, which he called a “pariah state” under the strong man of Kim Jong-Un.
The next day, he slipped into a coma, his father said.
“The day after he was sentenced, he went into a coma,” Warmbier told Fox News, says the family was shocked when they heard of Otto’s is in a phone call from Yun on Tuesday of last week.
A U.S. official told Fox News that Warmbier was in a coma for over a year.” The official added that the North Koreans told the US that Warmbier contracted botulism and slipped into a coma after taking a sleeping pill. Neither the family nor the doctors treating Warmbier
have commented on that claim.
In Wyoming, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati, friends and neighbors from Warmbier said they were delighted the young man was at home, but
expressed serious concerns about his condition.
“We are very concerned for his health and the future,” said neighbor Tom Purdy. “We hope that he can return to normal. We have prayed for him every night.”
Wyoming High School, where Warmbier attended, students described him as a “remarkable person” who was known in the community for his academic performance and sportsmanship.
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.
When asked what advice he might have for their family, Warmbier said he had none.
“I wouldn’t know what to say to them,” he said. “This is it, I have been told, not precedents.”