Father says Otto Warmbier 'brutalized and terrorized' in N. Korea

Carla Harmon
June 17, 2017

This article has been updated.

Warmbier confirmed several reports in the conference, including that no one had seen or heard from Otto since March 2016 and that former National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman, who traveled to North Korea at the same time of Otto's release, was not involved in Otto's release.

Fred Warmbier, Otto's father, held a news conference Thursday, June 15.

Fred Warmbier said his family doesn't believe North Korea's explanation that Otto fell into a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill shortly after his sentencing.

Kanter said Warmbier's vital signs were stable upon arrival.

"It is a family-focused place where people take care of each other", she said.

A White House spokeswoman says Warmbier's release "was a big priority" for President Donald Trump.


Warmbier also expressed dissatisfaction with the "pariah regime in North Korea" that "terrorized and brutalized" Otto for 18 months in an interview with Fox News' Tucker Carlson.

"I've got nothing from my experiences with him that would suggest he would do something like that", Gratton said.

Otto Warmbier, the college student released by North Korea while in a coma, suffered a "severe neurological" injury, according to the doctors who are treating him.

Dr. Daniel Kanter is a member of Warmbier's medical team, and he said the most important test was an MRI of Warmbier's brain.

Physicians said they don't know the cause of Warmbier's brain damage, noting that he doesn't seem to understand language, doctors said.

North Korean officials claimed Warmbier fell into a coma in March previous year due to botulism and a sleeping pill. He wore the same blazer Otto Warmbier wore when he confessed his crimes in North Korea.

Warmbier said even if the North Korean story was true, there's still no excuse for keeping a 15-month coma a secret until last week and denying him access to top-notch medical care.


Doctors will share further information about Otto Warmbier's medical condition in a separate news conference Thursday afternoon, Martin said. Doctors said his injuries are consistent with respiratory arrest cutting off oxygen to the brain, but they are not certain what caused it. We were advised that it was important that you don't upset the North Koreans.

North Korean officials blamed Otto's condition on botulism combined with a sleeping pill. Tillerson then directed Yun to travel to North Korea to negotiate Otto's release. Yun and two doctors saw Otto for the first time that day since his sentencing in March 2016.

Warmbier, 22, was detained at Pyongyang International Airport in January 2016 and charged with stealing a poster from a North Korean hotel where he was staying as part of a Young Pioneers Tour. And I'm tremendously proud of Otto.

This story has been corrected to show that Otto Warmbier was presented to media for his confession in North Korea in 2016, not 2015, and on February 29, not in March.

"To be honest, I had avoided conversations with him, because to what end?"

"We relied on this false premise that they would treat Otto fairly and let him go", Fred Warmbier said. And, so, the fact that he was taken and treated this way is terrible and it's tough to process.

"We are not burdened with whatever North Korea says or does any longer", he said.


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