Ordeal of U.S. student in N.Korea, now in coma, 'terrible thing'

Warmbier is in stable condition at UC Medical Center, where he was taken Tuesday night after his arrival in Ohio.

The university student had been on a tourist trip when he was arrested and sentenced to 15 years hard labour, a punishment the USA decried as far out of proportion to his alleged crime, accusing the North of using him as a political pawn. He opens his eyes but does not show signs of understanding language or responding, Dr. Daniel Kanter, professor of neurology and director of the Neurocritical Care Program said.

"I'm proud of Otto, and the courage he showed by going to North Korea", Otto's father Fred Warmbier said at a press conference on Thursday, wearing the same jacket Otto wore when he appeared in a North Korean courtroom.

USA and North Korean officials said Rodman played no role in freeing Warmbier and the timing of the release and Rodman's arrival was a coincidence.

They said they had found no indication of botulism, a toxin that causes nerve damage.

In its first official comment since Warmbier was returned home, North Korea said it released him for humanitarian reasons. He was charged with "hostile acts against the state" and, after a sham trial, sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

Doctors said they don't know what caused the brain damage.

Warmbier, 22, arrived in the United States on Tuesday.

When asked about that, Fred Warmbier said he thinks the State Department was pretty tough with them.

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

A hospital official from UC Health said later today three doctors will share an update on Otto's medical condition.

However, North Korean authorities said they had security footage from the Pyongyang hotel where Warmbier was staying showing him trying to steal a banner containing a political slogan that was hanging on a wall. The State Department called the effort "quiet diplomacy" at a time of North Korean missile tests and increasing USA pressure on Kim Jong Un's totalitarian government.

The doctors said they are not aware of anything from his previous medical history, prior to his time in North Korea, that might cause cardiopulmonary arrest. His family was unaware of his condition until he was released.

Fred and Cindy Warmbier, Otto's parents, have also expressed disbelief at North Korea's story that their son caught extreme food poisoning.

President Donald Trump on Friday said he was "glad" the United States was able to rescue Otto Warmbier from North Korean custody.

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

The retired basketball player said before leaving for Pyongyang last week that his mission was to try to build bridges between the U.S. and the reclusive state.

"The North Koreans lure Americans to travel to North Korea via tour groups run out of China, who advertise slick ads on the Internet claiming no American ever gets detained off of our tours, and this is a safe place to go". Three other Americans remain detained in North Korea. The Republican congressman says he wants to make sure the Treasury Department does not issue licenses for tourism to North Korea.

  • Bernice Underwood