U.S. student, freed from North Korea with neurological injury, was brutalized, father says

Bryan Woolston—Reuters
A person believed to be Otto Warmbier is transferred from a medical transport airplane to an awaiting ambulance at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati on June 13.

CINCINNATI — An American university student who has suffered a “severe” neurological injury after being detained for 17 months in North Korea was “brutalized” by the reclusive regime, his father said on Thursday.Otto Warmbier, 22, has a “severe” neurological injury but is stable and receiving treatment at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, center spokeswoman Kelly Martin said at a news briefing at Warmbier’s high school in Wyoming, Ohio.Warmbier, a University of Virginia student, was “brutalized and terrorized” by the North Korean regime, his father Fred Warmbier said at the news conference.North Korea’s official KCNA news agency said in a one-line report on Thursday the student was “sent back home on June 13, 2017, on humanitarian grounds according to the adjudication made on the same day by the Central Court of the DPRK.”Fred Warmbier said the family did not believe North Korea’s story, that their son had fallen into a coma after contracting botulism and being given a sleeping pill.”We don’t believe anything they (North Korea) say,” Fred Warmbier said.Otto Warmbier was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years of hard labor for trying to steal an item with a propaganda slogan, according to North Korean media reports.The New York Times previously cited a senior U.S. official as saying Washington had received intelligence reports that Warmbier had been repeatedly beaten while in North Korean custody.Fred Warmbier said of his son’s release: “They did not do this out of the kindness of their hearts.”