CINCINNATI (CNN) – Former North Korea detainee and US college student Otto Warmbier is in stable condition but has suffered a “severe neurological injury,” University of Cincinnati Medical Center spokeswoman Kelly Martin said Thursday.
The Warmbier family doesn’t believe North Korea’s explanation that the 22-year-old fell into a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill shortly after he was sentenced in March 2016, Warmbier’s father told reporters Thursday.
“Even if you believe their explanation of botulism and a sleeping pill causing a coma — and we don’t — there is no excuse for any civilized nation to have kept his condition a secret and denied him top-notch medical care for so long,” Fred Warmbier said during a news conference at southern Ohio’s Wyoming High School, where Otto had graduated.
Doctors will share further information about Otto Warmbier’s medical condition in a separate news conference Thursday afternoon, Martin said.
The 22-year-old University of Virginia student, who is currently in a coma, was freed for humanitarian reasons, according to a one-line report from a North Korean news agency Thursday.
Warmbier was freed earlier this week after being jailed for more than 17 months.
He was found guilty of committing a “hostile act” against North Korea in March 2016 and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
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. A source close to the family said Warmbier contracted botulism last year.
“Otto is not in great shape right now,” Fred Warmbier, Otto’s father, told Fox News in an interview Wednesday. “Otto has been terrorized and brutalized for 18 months by a pariah regime in North Korea.”
The hospital will hold a separate conference later today to discuss Otto’s medical condition.