Freed U.S. Student Was “Brutalized” by North Korea

Freed U.S. Student Was “Brutalized” by North Korea
FILE PHOTO - 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 February 29, 2016. Mandatory credit REUTERS/Kyodo

The university student held by North Korea for 17 months has suffered a “severe” neurological injury brought on by being “brutalized” by the rogue regime according to his father.

Otto Warmbier, 22, has a "severe" neurological injury but is stable and receiving treatment at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, center spokeswoman Kelly Martin said at a news briefing at Warmbier's high school in Wyoming, Ohio.

Warmbier, a University of Virginia student, was "brutalized and terrorized" by the North Korean regime, his father Fred Warmbier said at the news conference.

North Korea's official KCNA news agency said in a one-line report on Thursday the student was "sent back home on June 13, 2017 on humanitarian grounds according to the adjudication made on the same day by the Central Court of the DPRK."

Fred Warmbier said the family did not believe North Korea's story, that their son had fallen into a coma after contracting botulism and being given a sleeping pill.

"We don't believe anything they (North Korea) say," Fred Warmbier said.

Otto Warmbier was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years of hard labor for trying to steal an item with a propaganda slogan, according to North Korean media reports.

The New York Times previously cited a senior U.S. official as saying Washington had received intelligence reports that Warmbier had been repeatedly beaten while in North Korean custody.

"They did not do this out of the kindness of their hearts," Warmbier said of his son's release.

When asked about former president Obama's administration response to their requests for help, Warmbier replied they were "advised by the past administration to take a low profile."

 "We did so without result. Earlier this year, Cindy and I decided the time for strategic patience was over," Warmbler said. "We made a few media appearances and traveled to Washington to meet with [Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Korea and Japan] Ambassador Joe Yun at the State Department. It is my understanding that Ambassador Yun and his team, at the direction of the president aggressively pursued resolution of the situation. They have our thanks for bringing him home."

 

Reuters copy/ TRUNEWS contribution

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