N Korea 'destroyed' Otto Warmbier, parents say

Updated: Sep. 26, 2017 at 9:48 AM EDT
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FOX19 - North Korea "destroyed" Otto Warmbier, who died in June after being detained for 17 months, his mother told FOX and Friends in an interview Tuesday.

Otto Wambier's parents said they were compelled to talk now because they feel North Korea claiming to be a "victim, that the world is picking on them."

"They kidnapped Otto. They tortured him. They intentionally injured him," said his father, Fred Warmbier. "They are not victims. They are terrorists."

Otto Warmbier, 22, was accused in January 2016 of trying to steal a propaganda banner while visiting the country.

Related story: Ohio hometown says goodbye to Otto Warmbier

He was imprisoned by the North Korean government and suffered severe brain damage, but there were no signs of physical trauma.

Warmbier was evacuated in a coma on June 13 and returned home to his family in Cincinnati.

They saw him for the first time on a plane at Lunken Airport. Halfway up the plane steps, they heard him.

"We heard this howling, involuntary, inhuman sound. We weren't really certain what it was. We climbed to the top of the steps and we looked in and Otto was on the stretcher across the plane and he was jerking violently, making inhuman sounds," his father said in Tuesday's interview.

His mother and sister were so upset, they ran off the plane.

His father and brother, Austin, stayed.

"...Otto had a shaved head. He had a feeding tube coming out of his nose," his father recalled Tuesday.

"He was blind, he was deaf. As we looked at him and tried to comfort him, it looked like someone had taken a pair of pliers and re-arranged his bottom teeth.

"Within two days of Otto being home, his fever spiked to 104 degrees. He had a large scar on his right foot. North Korea is not a victim. They are terrorists," his father said.

His mother added:  "They destroyed him."

"They purposely and intentionally injured Otto," his father said.

Otto Warmbier was taken straight from the airport to University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he died six days later.

His father said they were shocked to learn North Korea is not considered a state sponsor of terror.

"We owe it to the world to list North Korea as a state sponsor of terror," said Fred Warmbier.

Otto Warmbier's cause of death remains unknown.

His doctors at the hospital rejected North Korea's claim he contracted botulism.

Officials with the Hamilton County Coroner's Office investigated Otto Warmbier's death. Then they said the family objected to an autopsy being performed on his body, so just an external exam was done.

It is unclear why the family objected to an autopsy, which could answer what happened to Warmbier in the secretive nation.

He is the first American to die after being released from North Korean custody in half a century.

In a Tweet after the interview, President Donald Trump said Otto Warmbier "was tortured beyond belief by North Korea"

"Great interview @foxandfriends with the parents of Otto Warmbier: 1994-2017."

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