USA student released from N. Korea has severe brain damage: doctor

"And so we're looking to the future", said the father. The controversy has flared up an already tense situation between the two countries.

The 22-year-old University of Virginia student was medically evacuated from North Korea and flown to Cincinnati late Tuesday.

Warmbier was detained by North Korea in January 2016 and was released Tuesday.

On New Year's Eve of 2015, Warmbier removed from the wall a propaganda poster of Kim Jong Il, the farther of Kim Jong Un, the current North Korean dictator, to keep as a souvenir, according to the North Koreans.

Washington has stepped up pressure on China and other foreign powers to enforce existing United Nations sanctions on North Korea, and has deployed increased military assets of its own in the region. Warmbier was convicted in March 2016 for committing a hostile act against the country.

In a separate statement, Otto Warmbier's doctors described his condition.

After doctors spent about 40 hours with him during imaging and diagnostic tests, they concluded Warmbier is in a state of unresponsive wakefulness. "However, he shows no signs of understanding language, responding to verbal commands or awareness of his surroundings", neurologist Daniel Kanter said.

Fred Warmbier called his son's return bittersweet.

The North Korean government said Warmbier's injuries were caused by botulism.

The retired sports celebrity was credited with the release of another USA captive in 2014, but Warmbier's release was negotiated between the two governments.

Diplomat Dennis Rodman, who is now in North Korea, declined to comment Tuesday on Warmbier's condition or that of three other Americans still being detained.

North Korean officials blamed Otto's condition on botulism combined with a sleeping pill.

There has been wide speculation that Warmbier was mistreated during his time in North Korea. Warmbier was released back to the USA just six days later.

The doctors said Warmbier's severe brain injury was most likely - given his young age - to have been caused by cardiopulmonary arrest cutting the blood supply to the brain. He said no family should have to endure what he has. "Do I think the former administration could have done more?"

That was the last time Warmbier was seen publicly - and about the same time he fell into a coma, his parents say they were told. Otto's release was secured via the State Department and the efforts of the Trump administration, he said.

He said he received "a very nice phone call" Wednesday evening from President Trump, who said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson worked hard to bring Otto home and asked how the family was doing. "Now we know why they wouldn't allow consular access", he said.

It's not immediately clear what kind of restriction the administration is considering, but Tillerson has authority under federal law to limit USA passport holders from traveling "where there is imminent danger to the public health or the physical safety of United States travellers". He said his son will now get medical care that he was denied in North Korea.

Tensions between the United States and North Korea have been heightened by dozens of North Korean missile launches and two nuclear bomb tests since the beginning of a year ago.

  • Leroy Wright