Update on American Freed From North Korea, and It’s Bad
This morning we were all so encouraged to see the news that Rex Tillerson had successfully negotiated for an American student to be freed from North Korea.
And it IS great news! Full story here.
But now more details have emerged and there is bad news to go along with it. Apparently, he is in a coma, which the North Koreans claim was caused by “botulism and a sleeping pill.” Excuse me if I don’t buy that story!
We may not know exactly what happened, but we can still be very grateful to the Trump Administration for getting him HOME! Now he can get real medical care at the finest American health hospitals.
Here’s what we know so far, from the Chicago Tribune:
University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, who has been detained in North Korea for 17 months, has been medically evacuated from the country in a coma, his parents told The Washington Post Tuesday.
Warmbier, who is 22, is due to arrive home in Cincinnati on Tuesday evening, having been evacuated through an American military base in Sapporo, Japan.
Warmbier had been in a coma for more than a year, since shortly after his last public appearance: during his trial in Pyongyang in March, 2016.
“Our son is coming home,” Fred Warmbier told The Post Tuesday morning after Otto had been evacuated from North Korea. “At the moment, we’re just treating this like he’s been in an accident. We get to see our son Otto tonight.”
His release was announced by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington Tuesday morning. Tillerson did not discuss Warmbier’s medical condition.
Warmbier was on a New Year’s Eve tour in North Korea, en route to Hong Kong, where he was to do a January study-abroad trip.
But on his final night in Pyongyang – New Year’s Eve – Warmbier appears to have gone to a staff-only floor of his hotel and attempted to take down a large propaganda sign lauding the regime.
He was charged with “hostile acts against the state,” and after an hour-long trial in March, 2016, sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor.
He had not been seen in public since and Swedish diplomats, who represent American interests in North Korea because the United States has no relations with the country, had been denied access to him since then.
The Warmbiers were told that he had come down with a case of botulism soon after his trial – which lasted only one hour – and had been given a sleeping pill, from which he never woke up.
There is no way of knowing yet whether the North Korean version of events is true, but the Warmbiers have been told their son had been in a coma the whole time. State Department officials are accompanying Otto from Sapporo to Cincinnatti.
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