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North Korea's hostage-taking ploy backfires with Warmbier coma

27 June 2017

North Korea has released 22-year-old USA student Otto Warmbier from a 15 year sentence of hard labor, officials said June 13, 2017, as former United States basketball star Dennis Rodman arrived in Pyongyang.

Warmbier, 22, is in stable condition at the UC Medical Center, where he was taken after his arrival in OH late Tuesday after more than 17 months in North Korean captivity.

Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years hard labor in March last year after traveling to North Korea while he was a student at the University of Virginia.

According to Kanter, the MRI scan of Warmbier's brain "showed extensive loss of brain tissue in all regions of the brain".

The father of Otto Warmbier, the United States student released from North Korean detention this week, lashed out Thursday at the reclusive regime, saying he did not believe its explanation for how his son fell into a coma.

However, doctors said there were no signs of botulism, a condition often associated with contaminated food, which can cause the nerves not to function properly and basically, leads to paralysis in some muscles. North Korea had told American officials that following his trial in March 2016, Warmbier became sick with the illness and slipped into a coma after being given a sleeping pill. "It was kind", Fred Warmbier said.

"He was very candid and it was a nice conversation", he said, adding that Trump expressed concern for the family's wellbeing.

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Warmbier was arrested by North Korean authorities 17 months ago for allegedly attempting to steal a state propaganda poster. Officials could not immediately confirm U.S. media reports that Warmbier had fallen into a coma during his incarceration.

North Korean authorities claimed they had security footage of him trying to steal a banner containing a political slogan that was hanging from a wall of his Pyongyang hotel.

And at a further meeting in NY on June 6, Yun learned of Warmbier's medical condition for the first time, said spokeswoman Heather Nauert, outlining the release effort.

Warmbier also accused North Korea of luring Americans to the country with the false promise they will never be detained.

"Otto has been terrorized and brutalized for 18 months by a pariah regime in North Korea", the father said in an interview with Tucker Carlson of Fox News that aired Thursday night. The next day, Warmbier was flown to a USA base in Japan before making the longer journey to OH to be reunited with his family.

Warmbier's future care and treatment will be kept confidential out of respect for the family, Kanter said.

"We have no certifiable knowledge of the cause or circumstances of his neurological injuries", Dr. Daniel Kanter, professor of neurology and director of the Neurocritical Care Program at the University of Cincinnati, said at the press conference.

Dr. Jordan Bonomo said Warmbier, 22, has "no fractures to the bone and has minor blemishes on his skin".

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"This is going to be a long, protracted convalescence; They should do this as a symbol that the US government will stand behind our citizens who have been violated", Richardson said.

Asked by a reporter if he felt the Obama administration should have done more to help, Warmbier replied, "I think the results speak for themselves".

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". The state-run Korean Central News Agency on Thursday didn't comment on his medical condition.

"When Otto was first taken, we were advised by the past administration to take a low profile while they worked to obtain his release". She says there are plenty of restrictions on what Americans can do in countries that face US sanctions - like North Korea or Iran.

The travel company claims on its website that North Korea is "extremely safe!"

North Korea is hardly a top destination for American travelers.

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North Korea's hostage-taking ploy backfires with Warmbier coma