As North Korea Issues Single Comment, Otto's Dad Opens Up
In a Tucker Carlson interview, with a Thursday news conference to follow
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2017 6:41 AM CDT
In this Feb. 29, 2016 file photo, American student Otto Warmbier speaks to reporters in Pyongyang, North Korea. Secretary of State Tillerson said Tuesday, June 13, 2017, that North Korea released the...   (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon, File)
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(Newser) – North Korea has issued its first official comment since releasing Otto Warmbier, but it's not one that clears up the biggest questions. "Warmbier, who had been in hard labor, was sent back home on June 13, 2017, on humanitarian grounds according to the adjudication made on the same day by the Central Court" of North Korea, reads the entirety of the report from the state-run Korean Central News Agency, per the AP. Nothing further was said regarding how the release came to be negotiated or how Warmbier ended up in a coma. Pyongyang has claimed the 22-year-old contracted botulism and took a sleeping pill before falling into a coma immediately after his March 2016 trial, but at least one doctor disputes that. More:

  • The Washington Post does have some further details regarding the release: It reports that after finally being informed of Warmbier's health, State Department Special Representative for North Korea Joseph Yun helped facilitate his removal from the country.
  • The Post has more on the reaction to Warmbier's homecoming from those in his hometown of Wyoming, Ohio, population 8,400, and more about Warmbier himself: a salutatorian, homecoming king, and soccer team captain who was attending the University of Virginia on a "prestigious scholarship" awarded to "intellectually curious" students.
  • As for what befell Warmbier, his parents may shine a light on that. Reuters reports Fred and Cindy Warmbier will "detail his mistreatment" during a Thursday morning press conference at their son's former high school.
  • Fred Warmbier did speak with Tucker Carlson on Wednesday, in an interview that will air Thursday at 8pm EDT on Fox News. We're "adjusting to a different reality," he says. "Otto is not in great shape right now ... [he] has been terrorized and brutalized for 18 months by a pariah regime in North Korea."
  • As for what the brutality was, the New York Times cites an unnamed senior US official who says Warmbier was beaten. "The mystery is why," as the Times puts it. By its count, 16 Americans have been held by the country in the past 21 years, and they've typically been abused psychologically, not physically, though there have been exceptions (Robert Park, detained in 2009, says North Korean women used a club to beat his genitals). The feeling seems to be that North Korea is wary of further tarnishing the world's perception of its human rights record.

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