United Nations rights envoy urges North Korea to clarify U.S. student case

"His neurological condition can be best described as a state of unresponsive wakefulness."

Otto Warmbier, the USA student released by North Korea this week after falling into a coma while in a labor camp, has suffered "severe neurological injury", a hospital spokesman said June 15, 2017.The 22-year-old from Cincinnati spent more than a year in detention after being arrested for stealing a political poster from a hotel.

"He shows no signs of understanding language, responding to verbal commands, or awareness of his surroundings".

Nor did they find evidence of botulism, a toxin that causes nerve injury, Dr. Brandon Foreman said. The Republican congressman says he wants to make sure the Treasury Department does not issue licenses for tourism to North Korea. Kanter said his team had received copies of brain MRI images from North Korean medical personnel, the earliest of which were dated April 2016. "We have no certain or verifiable knowledge of the cause or circumstances of his neurological injury".

"This pattern of brain injury is usually seen as result of cardiopulmonary arrest where blood supply to (the) brain is inadequate for a period of time, resulting in the death of brain tissue".

An American college student who was recently released from North Korea has suffered severe brain damage, his doctors said Thursday, adding to growing calls in the USA for a travel ban to the reclusive nation amid souring public sentiment and safety concerns. He said there was no reason for North Korea to keep his son's condition a secret and deny him top medical care. According to The Washington Post, the North Korean government apparently told Warmbier's parents that their son suffered from botulism after his show trial and was given a sleeping pill.

North Korea released USA student Otto Warmbier "on humanitarian grounds", state media said Thursday, two days after he was evacuated from Pyongyang after falling into a coma while imprisoned in a labour camp.

The statement directly criticized efforts by Trump to tighten pressure on North Korea, saying Washington and its supporters are trying to "completely suffocate" the country's economy and "impoverish the people's livelihood".

Many believe American tourism to North Korea helps each side humanize the other - including Dennis Rodman, who's now visiting the reclusive country.

Tensions between the United States and North Korea have been heightened by North Korean missile launches and two nuclear bomb tests. In Congress, a bipartisan bill was proposed in May by Republican Rep. Joe Wilson and Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, which calls for Americans to be barred from touring the oppressive country and requiring them to obtain special permission for other types of visits. "No other family should have to endure what the Warmbiers have".

Last March, North Korea's Supreme Court sentenced Warmbier to 15 years in prison with hard labor for stealing a political banner from a staff-only section of a Pyongyang hotel where he was staying. He had been on a tour of the reclusive country, his parents said.

He was arrested for trying to steal an item bearing a propaganda slogan, North Korean media reported.

That was used as evidence in his hourlong trial. It was the last time he was seen publicly before this week.

Warmbier, from Wyoming, Ohio, has been in a coma since March 2016, shortly after he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labour in North Korea, his family said on Tuesday.

The elder Warmbier said his family doesn't believe the excuse given by North Korea that Otto's condition today was due to a sleeping pill and botulism.

After the Swedes visited one detainee, North Korea representatives sought another meeting with Yun, and it was at that June 6 meeting in NY that North Korea's United Nations ambassador told Yun that Warmbier was in a coma, the official said.

"But they provide fodder for the North Koreans, and my son happened to become fodder for the North Koreans".

"Joseph Yun went to Pyongyang to accompany Mr Warmbier home", Thomas Shannon, undersecretary of state for political affairs, told reporters in Seoul Wednesday.

  • Larry Hoffman