Warmbier's father criticizes Obama administration

Warmbier's father criticizes Obama administration

While wearing the same jacket his son Otto Warmbier wore during his North Korean trial which ended with him sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, Fred Warmbier expressed frustration at a press conference Thursday towards Obama administration's perceived lack of progress on returning his son home.

When asked about if the Obama administration did enough to help,  Fred Warmbier said, "Could the past administration done more? I think the results speak for themselves."

Warmbier, 22, a finance student at the University of Virginia, was arrested in North Korea after trying to steal a propaganda poster.

The family went 15 months without hearing a word from their son or any updates on his condition from the North Koreans or Swedish officials that do diplomatic work in the DPRK on the behalf of the United States. Just last week, they learned he was in a coma for most of the time. He was returned to Cincinnati Wednesday and is in stable condition.

Right now there are no answers on what happened to Warmbier during his detention in North Korea.

The elder Warmbier said at a press conference Thursday the last administration told him and his family to keep a low profile after their son was taken into North Korean custody.

After President Donald Trump's inauguration, the family saw an opportunity to rekindle momentum to save their son from the totalitarian government. Warmbier's parents met with the U.S. State Department's top official on North Korea Joseph Yun, an Obama appointee, earlier this year.

"It is my understanding that Ambassador Yun and his team, at the direction of the president aggressively pursued resolution of the situation," Fred Warmbier said to reporters Thursday.

Warmbier's father praised the Trump administration for working to free his son, saying the president called him on Wednesday night and said, "We worked hard and I'm sorry this is the outcome."

North Korea's state run media says Warmbier was released for "humanitarian reasons."

"Under a decision by the DPRK Central Court of June 13, American citizen Otto Warmbier who was serving a sentence of labor was returned on June 13 on humanitarian grounds," The North's KCNA news stations said as reported by Reuters.

Otto Warmbier being carried off a plane at Lunken Airport Tuesday. (Photo: Sam Greene, The Cincinnati Enquirer)

The State Department "strongly warns" Americans from visiting North Korea, saying citizens are at "serious risk" of being subject to harsh sentences for actions that would not be considered crimes in the United States and prisoners are treated in accordance with the authoritarian country's "wartime laws." There are no promises the United States is able to negotiate the safe return of detainees, saying there is no formal diplomatic relationship with the North.

Describing his son's "bittersweet return," Fred Warmbier dismissed the secretive regime's story of his son falling into a coma after contracting botulism and consuming a sleeping pill he never woke up from.

"There's no excuse for a civilized nation to have kept his condition secret and denied him top-notch medical care for so long," he said.

According to University of Cincinnati doctors treating Otto Warmbier, he is unresponsive and suffered "extensive loss of brain tissue in all regions of the brain." Warmbier returned home without any signs of physical trauma and was "well nourished." His doctors do not know what caused the devastating brain damage.

"This pattern of brain injury, however, is usually seen as a result of cardiopulmonary arrest where the blood supply to the brain is inadequate for a period of time, resulting in the death of brain tissue," University of Cincinnati Health doctor Daniel Kanter said at a news conference Thursday.

Warmbier is breathing on his own and all other major organs are working. His eyes occasionally open but shows "no signs of understanding language" and is apparently unaware of his surroundings.

The student's release came amid escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea, which has ramped up its ballistic missile tests in its pursuit of a nuclear weapon it threatens to use in combat.

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