National

The North Korea detainee's final moments of freedom

Warmbier's father Fred lashed out earlier Thursday at the North Korean regime, saying he did not believe its claim that his son contracted botulism and fell into a coma shortly after being arrested a year ago.

Warmbier, 22, was released by North Korea on Tuesday and arrived at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center the same day.

Warmbier was found guilty in March, 2016, of "hostile acts against the state" for his attempt to steal a propaganda poster on his last night in North Korea before a scheduled trip to Hong Kong as part of a study overseas trip sponsored by the University of Virginia. He opens his eyes but does not show signs of understanding language or responding, Dr. Daniel Kanter, professor of neurology and director of the Neurocritical Care Program said.

His release came after Joseph Yun, the US State Department's special envoy on North Korea, travelled to Pyongyang and demanded Warmbier's release on "humanitarian grounds", capping a flurry of secret diplomatic contacts, a US official said.

Tests did not turn up evidence of botulism, which the North Koreans had claimed Warmbier contracted before being given a sleeping pill and not waking up, doctor Brandon Foreman said. Doctors treating him in the USA said they found no evidence of botulism, but did find severe brain damage consistent with losing oxygen to the brain.

North Korea sentenced Warmbier to 15 years of hard labor for stealing a banner as a joke.

"I don't know what being in shock is, but I'm pretty sure I was", he said.

Warmbier was released from the rogue country on Tuesday.

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A United Nations human rights investigator called on North Korea on Friday to explain why an American student was in a coma when he was returned home after more than a year in detention there. "We relied on this false premise that they would treat Otto fairly and would let him go", Warmbier said.

In 2015, Rodman's visits were captured by the documentary "Big Bang in Pyongyang", which features Rodman teaching basketball to North Korean players and singing "Happy Birthday" to Kim Jong Un.

The doctors said they are not aware of anything from his previous medical history, prior to his time in North Korea, that might cause cardiopulmonary arrest.

"I knelt down by his side, and I hugged him, and I told him I missed him and I was so glad that he made it home", Fred Warmbier said. Three other US citizens are being held by the regime; President Trump should make their release a priority.

He said he received "a very nice phone call" Wednesday from President Donald Trump, who said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson worked hard to bring Otto home. "A really good trip", Rodman told reporters at Beijing's airport, Reuters reported.

Hundreds of thousands of people, including children, are detained in the inhumane political prisons and other detention facilities in North Korea and forced to work in its mines. But an analysis of images from North Korea of Warmbier's brain dated April 2016 suggests the injury occurred in the preceding weeks.

Danny Gratton told the Washington Post he met Warmbier in Beijing in December 2015 on a tour to North Korea.

Warmbier was detained for 17 months and officials say he's been in a coma for more than a year.

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