Otto Warmbier (22) suffered extensive brain damage and shows no current signs of botulism, said doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center on Thursday. The American was released from 17 months of detention in North Korea, which claimed that he had gone into a coma after receiving treatment for botulism. Dr. Daniel Kanter said that Warmbier “shows no signs of understanding language or responding to verbal commands." The doctor described Warmbier’s status as "unresponsive wakefulness." Doctors at the center could not speculate on what caused his injuries and had no information about the kind of care he received in North Korea.
In a press conference on Thursday, Fred Warmbier -- Warmbier’s father -- said that the Obama administration told his family to keep quiet about the imprisonment. He said that when their son was first detained by North Korea at the end of 2015, he and wife Cindy were advised by the "past administration to take a low profile while they worked to obtain his release."
"We did so without resolve. Earlier this year, Cindy and I decided that the time for strategic patience was over. We made a few media appearances and travelled to Washington to meet with Ambassador Joe Yun at the State Department," Warmbier said. "It is my understanding that Ambassador Yun and his team, at the direction of the president [Donald Trump], progressively pursued resolution of the situation. They have our thanks for bringing Otto home." The elder Warmbier said later in the conference, “We did what we could."
"We tried to stay low. We were advised that it was important that you don't upset the North Koreans," Warmbier said. "So, we followed that logic and there came a time when that doesn't seem to have any impact. So, we went public with an interview on Tucker Carlson's show and we did a couple of written pieces and very quickly, we have Otto home.
Otto Warmbier grew up in Ohio and was a University of Virginia student who was released by the North Korean government earlier this week. The communist government of North Korea had charged him as a war criminal for allegedly removing a poster of former dictator Kim Jong Il while on a tour of the isolated nation. North Korea claimed that it released him for humanitarian reasons due to the fact that he is in a coma due to being a sedative for botulism.
Fred Warmbier, however, claimed at the news conference that his son was brutalized by his captors. A hospital spokesperson stated that young Warmbier had suffered "severe neurological injury."
"Even if you believe their explanation of botulism and a sleeping pill causing the coma, and we don't, there is no excuse for any civilized nation to have kept his condition secret and deny him top-notch medical care for so long," Warmbier told reporters.
"North Korea is a pariah regime, they are brutal and they are terroristic," Warmbier added later in the press conference. "You can't believe anything ... We don't believe anything they say. We see the results of their actions with Otto."
It is believed that Warmbier has been in a coma since shortly after his trial in March 2016.