United States official's 'quiet diplomacy' led to Warmbier's release

Jun 19, 2017, 00:34
United States official's 'quiet diplomacy' led to Warmbier's release

His family said he had been in a coma since March 2016, shortly after he was sentenced to 15 years' hard labour in North Korea.

Doctors caring for released North Korea detainee Otto Warmbier said he has not spoken or moved on his own since he arrived in the United States on Tuesday, a condition they described as "unresponsive wakefulness" or persistent vegetative state.

Warmbier is in stable a condition at the UC Medical Center, where he was taken after his arrival in OH on Wednesday, after more than 17 months in North Korean captivity.

Otto Warmbier was a top student at the University of Virginia who was planning to go into finance, with a summer internship lined up before he left the country in December 2015, a close-knit family and a huge crowd of friends from home and college. He spontaneously opens and blinks his eyes but doesn't seem to understand language, respond to verbal commands or be aware of his surroundings.

Richardson, a Democrat, credited the Department of State with securing Warmbier's return from North Korea without any preconditions, but said a forceful response from the USA government would be required "if it's determined that there was a coverup, and Otto's condition was not disclosed and he didn't get proper treatment".

But they could not definitively say what could have caused such an event, saying they had found no signs of a botulism infection - the explanation given by the North Korean regime for how the young man fell into a coma. He got 15 years in prison with hard labor for subversion after he tearfully confessed that he had tried to steal a propaganda banner.

Warmbier is a University of Virginia student who arrived back home in OH on Tuesday in a coma.

The tour group that brought a 22 year-old American student to North Korea where he was later detained and sent home over a year later in a coma advertises the country as "probably one of the safest countries on Earth to visit". But during a news conference, Fred Warmbier said there was nothing humanitarian about the way they treated his son, who has been in a coma since March 2016.

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Doctors Daniel Kanter, Jordan Bonomo and Brandon Foreman briefed reporters on Warmbier's condition. He is in stable condition but sustained a severe neurological injury, the official said.

Rodman is one of few Americans to have met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and has visited the country four times since 2013.

"This pattern of brain injury is usually seen as result of cardiopulmonary arrest where the blood supply to brain is inadequate for a period of time resulting in the death of brain tissue", he said.

South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson co-sponsored a House of Representatives bill to do just that, even before Otto Warmbier's release.

Over the next five days, and after consulting Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson instructed Yun to travel to North Korea to negotiate Warmbier's release. He said he and his wife, Cindy, only learned of their son's condition last week.

The State Department now warns Americans against travel to North Korea, but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has signaled he may go further.

Warmbier was detained by North Korea in January 2016 and was released Tuesday. "A really good trip", Dennis Rodman said upon his return. Three other USA citizens are being held by the regime; President Trump should make their release a priority.

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