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Ordeal of US student in N.Korea, now in coma, 'terrible

17 June 2017

Warmbier is awake, but has not spoken and appears to be unaware of his surroundings, a doctor said.

Last March, North Korea's Supreme Court sentenced Warmbier to 15 years in prison with hard labor for stealing a political banner from a staff-only section of a Pyongyang hotel where he was staying.

Meanwhile, the background process of how Warmbier got to be released brings attention to the possibility of dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang on the North Korean nuclear issue.

"When Otto was first taken we were advised by the past administration to take a low profile while they worked to obtain his release", Warmbier said, pausing for a moment.

REUTERS/BRYAN WOOLSTONLocal residents hold signs of support to welcome home Otto Warmbier at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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"I call on them to release the other Americans being held", he urged.

Fred Warmbier, Otto Warmbier's father, denounced the dictatorship regime that imprisoned his son. He suffered a "severe neurological injury", a University of Cincinnati Medical Center spokeswoman revealed Thursday.

Fred Warmbier said the family did not believe North Korea's story that his son had fallen into a coma after contracting botulism and being given a sleeping pill. "Even if you believe their explanation of botulism and a sleeping pill causing the coma - and we don't - there's no excuse for a civilized nation to have kept his condition secret and to have denied him top notch medical care".

It is unclear if Yun knew as he set off for North Korea that he would be allowed to bring Warmbier home.

Otto has undergone a full list of imaging and diagnostic tests. He was also in a coma for over a year and the United States just found out about his condition last week. His family asked his doctors to disclose details about his condition amid intense scrutiny and questions about his condition. "We're hoping that he will be OK". Warmbier's father, Fred, said at a press conference yesterday.

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Twenty-two-year-old Otto Warmbier's (WORM'-birz) high school English teacher, Danica White, says he was an outstanding student with "a good heart".

"We don't feel he has any conscious awareness", Brandon Foreman, neurointensive care specialist at UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute, said. "Nothing really bad ever happens in Wyoming".

The American college student returned Tuesday to the United States after 17 months in detention.

However, the BBC reports that scans performed at the Cincinnati Medical Center show "no sign that he was physically abused during his detention". The Wall Street Journal on Thursday argued for the ban, saying about 5,000 Western tourists take risks to go there each year and highlighting "dangers amplified by heightened tension" between Washington and Pyongyang.

North Korea has arrested 16 American citizens and is still holding three - Kim Dong Chul, Kim Sang-duk, and Kim Hak-song.

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The US government accuses North Korea of using such detainees as political pawns. Shortly after the Swedish visits, the North reached out to the USA with an urgent request to meet in person, officials said. She says there are plenty of restrictions on what Americans can do in countries that face USA sanctions - like North Korea or Iran.