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

Patient in hospital

Otto Warmbier, the U.S. student released by North Korea this week after falling into a coma while in a labor camp, has suffered "severe neurological injury", a hospital spokesman said June 15, 2017.The 22-year-old from Cincinnati spent more than a year in detention after being arrested for stealing a political poster from a hotel.

When Yun finally laid eyes on the comatose Warmbier in a North Korean hospital, it was the first time the US could verify his condition in person since his sentencing more than a year earlier, the State Department said.

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.

The doctors said he has spontaneous eye-opening and blinking but shows no signs of understanding language or awareness of his surroundings.

His father, Fred Warmbier, told Fox News that his son was "terrorized and brutalized" and has been in a coma for more than a year.

US 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. Warmbier made it clear he does not believe North Korea's explanation of botulism combined with a sleeping pill for Otto's condition. United States doctors said they found no evidence of active botulism, a rare, serious illness caused by contaminated food or a dirty wound.

When a medical transport plane brought 22-year-old Otto Warmbier home from North Korea this week, a Reuters photographer stood on the corner of a dark tarmac behind a chain link fence - more than 300 yards away from the action.

He has been in a coma for more than a year, since shortly after his last public appearance at his trial in March of 2016, the Washington Post reported. "I just said kind of quite nervously, 'Well, that's the last we'll see of you.' There's a great irony in those words".

Fred also said they had asked the previous administration to handle Otto's case but failed to get any progress.

Doctors say they are consistent, however, with Warmbier's current condition.

Yun boarded a private aircraft along with two doctors and arrived Monday in Pyongyang, where they were met by North Korean officials and saw Warmbier in a hospital.

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 said. "I was in shock".

The father of Otto Warmbier, a North Korean prisoner released Tuesday, blamed former President Barack Obama's administration for not doing enough for his son's faster release from the isolated country. On the same trip, he suggested an American missionary was at fault for his own imprisonment in North Korea, remarks for which he later apologized.

Fred Warmbier said that he doesn't know why North Korea released his son but that the country doesn't do anything out of "the kindness of their hearts".

Before leaving for Pyongyang, Rodman, 56, had recorded a video in which he said his mission was to try to "open doors" between the United States and North Korea, Efe news agency reported.

"Under a decision by the DPRK Central Court of June 13, American citizen Otto Warmbier who was serving a sentence of labour was returned on June 13 on humanitarian grounds", KCNA said.

"Those toughest restrictions on travel and tourism right now only really apply to Cuba", says former Treasury Department official Elizabeth Rosenberg.

But Yun managed to see the other three detained Americans while in Pyongyang, providing the USA with much-sought information about their condition.

Although U.S. citizens are not banned from visiting North Korea, the U.S. State Department strongly advises against it.

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