Travel to North Korea Could Be Banned for Americans, Rex Tillerson Says

Posted June 19, 2017

The father of Otto Warmbier, the U.S. 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.

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

The University of Virginia student was later sentenced to 15 years of prison and hard labor for allegedly stealing a political propaganda poster from his Pyongyang hotel in January 2016.

Kanter said that Warmbier had suffered "extensive loss of brain tissue in all regions of the brain", but he declined to discuss Warmbier's prognosis at the request of his family.

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. State Department confirmed the US special envoy to North Korea met with the other three USA citizens being held captive in North Korea.

Earlier Thursday, his father told reporters he rejected the regime's explanation that Otto fell into a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill in March 2016, shortly after he stood trial in the country for a "hostile act". Though they could not say with certainty what caused his injuries, they found no evidence to support the botulism claim.

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.

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

Warmbier was released from a North Korean prison and returned home to suburban Cincinnati on Tuesday in a coma.

Fred also said they had asked the previous administration to handle Otto's case but failed to get any progress. Fred Warmbier said at a news conference Thursday that Trump had said he was "sorry" and criticized his predecessor Barack Obama for his failure to obtain Otto Warmbier's release earlier.

His neurological condition was "not what we normally see with traumatic brain injury", said Dr Daniel Kanter.

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.

This type of brain injury is usually seen as a result of cardiopulmonary arrest, meaning heart or lung malfunctions may have prevented oxygen from reaching the brain through a person's blood supply, causing brain tissue to die, he explained. He called on the country to release three other Americans held there.

The father of an American college student who was imprisoned in North Korea and was returned to his home state of OH in a coma says the family is "adjusting to a different reality".

It was widely speculated that Rodman would take up the issue of USA citizens detained in North Korea.

North Korea released Warmbier six days later.

While thousands travel to North Korea each year and return safely, Warmbier's story shows there's a bad price to be paid for some.

Unresponsive wakefulness is a syndrome in which someone has no awareness of their surroundings, despite perhaps his eyes being open, blinking or looking around, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.