Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
World News | By Carolyn Briggs

United States student suffered 'extensive' brain damage in North Korea

The hermit state freed Otto Warmbier on Tuesday after about 17 months in custody.

Warmbier had been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, after allegedly trying to steal a propaganda poster from his hotel room in Pyongyang, which North Korea considers to be "hostile" and illegal.

'However, he shows no signs of understanding language, responding to verbal commands or awareness of his surroundings'.

Richardson, who has been in close contact with the Warmbier family, said he did not believe Pyongyang's explanation that the student's condition was the result of botulism and a sleeping pill.

U.S. President Donald Trump celebrated Warmbier's return to the U.S. saying, "what's happened to him is a truly bad thing but at least the ones who love him so much can now take care of him and be with him". Pyongyang officials explained the American student fell into a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill a year ago. A CNN report said doctors found significant contractions and weakness in Warmbier's legs, though they are unsure of the cause.

At a news conference earlier on Thursday, father Fred Warmbier said they are left with many questions and no answers.

Hundreds of thousands of people, including children, are detained in the inhumane political prisons and other detention facilities in North Korea and forced to work in its mines.

He praised Otto's "adventurous side" and said it was "tough to process" how his son was treated by the North Korean regime.

Fred Warmbier echoed the message of United States officials, who have said Rodman played no role in the release.

'He has spontaneous eye opening and blinking, ' neurologist Daniel Kanter said on Thursday. The U.S. diplomat was eventually allowed to travel to Pyongyang to see the detainees, after learning of Warmbier's condition on June 6.

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Gratton says he and Warmbier were among the last people to go through security at Pyongyang International Airport on that morning. "I don't know what being in shock is, but I'm pretty sure I was", the father told assembled reporters in Cincinnati.

Tourist Danny Gratton met Warmbier in Beijing in late December 2015 on the day they traveled to North Korea for a guided tour of the secretive dictatorship.

In pictures and videos from his time in North Korea, Warmbier can be seen smiling and enjoying himself. Kanter said they have very little information about Otto's care in North Korea, except they did get access to images of Otto's brain from April 2016.

It was widely speculated that Rodman would take up the issue of USA citizens detained in North Korea.

"While I welcome the news of Mr Warmbier's release, I am very concerned about his condition, and the authorities have to provide a clear explanation about what made him slip into a coma", Tomas Ojea Quintana, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), said in a statement issued in Geneva.

Fred Warmbier said the same Thursday.

He said Otto "is not in great shape right now" and that his family is "adjusting to a different reality".

Tension has escalated on the Korean peninsula over North Korea's nuclear and missile tests since past year.

"It's just something I think in the Western world we just can't understand, we just can't grasp, the evilness behind that dictatorship".

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