US official's 'quiet diplomacy' led to Warmbier's release

by Ben Pena June 17, 2017, 4:16

Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old university student released to the United States this week after being held in North Korea for 17 months, has a severe brain injury and is in a state of "unresponsive wakefulness", his OH doctors said on Thursday.

Otto Frederick Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who has been detained in North Korea since early January, attends a news conference in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo released by Kyodo on February 29, 2016.

North Korean authorities claimed Warmbier's coma was caused by botulism and a sleeping pill, an explanation his doctors dismissed on Thursday.

A White House spokeswoman says Warmbier's release "was a big priority" for President Donald Trump.

Otto Warmbier has a severe brain injury and is in a state of "unresponsive wakefulness", his OH doctors said on Thursday.

Neurologist Daniel Kanter told a news conference in Warmbier's home city of Cincinnati, Ohio on Thursday that his neurological condition was best described "as a state of unresponsive wakefulness".

Warmbier was arrested on January 2, 2016, while trying to board a plane out of North Korea. He said Obama "worked through every avenue available" to try to secure Warmbier's release.

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

North Korea, the secretive state, has broken its silence on why they chose to release American detainee Otto Warmbier, after condemning him to 15 years of hard labor in a North Korean work camp.

Danny Gratton told the Washington Post he met Warmbier in Beijing in December 2015 on a tour to North Korea.

This time, Rodman has been much more low-key and even diplomatic, releasing a video saying he was "trying to open doors between both countries".

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North Korean escapees have reported that it is common practice to send home prisoners who are very ill, Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) told AFP.

The parents and doctors of Otto Warmbier spoke out publicly today for the first time since he returned from North Korea in a coma. The U.S. says North Korea is using detained Americans as political pawns, while Pyongyang has accused Washington and Seoul of sending spies to overthrow the regime.

Although doctors had no information about the type of medical treatment Warmbier received while in North Korea, they did receive MRI images from North Korea dated April 2016, Kanter said.

He excelled in academics, graduating from Wyoming High School in 2013 as his class salutatorian and getting a scholarship to the University of Virginia.

Once North Korea releases the three Americans still in captivity, some analysts think the Trump administration will have little choice but to continue on the path already set.

"[I feel] relief that Otto is now home in the arms of those who love him", he said.

Fred Warmbier appeared critical of the Obama administration's handling of Otto's detention, saying the family heeded the U.S. government's initial advice to take a low profile "without result".

Wilson was part of a congressional delegation visiting North Korea back in 2003l. A handful of United States lawmakers were pushing to ban the practice before news of Warmbier's coma broke.

Warmbier, 22, spent nearly a year-and-a-half in captivity after being arrested in January 2016.

"I think the results speak for themselves", he said.

State Department officials refused to comment on Warmbier's health, citing department guidelines, but said the last time the USA had any access to Warmbier, through the Swedish Embassy, was March of a year ago.


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