Doctors report Warmbier's brain damage while voices grow for NK travel ban

Three North Korean soldiers in the Demilitarized Zone. Wikimedia Commons  Creative Commons  Henrik Ishihara

The hermit state freed Otto Warmbier on Tuesday after about 17 months in custody.

A USA diplomat who traveled to North Korea to secure American college student Otto Warmbier's (WORM'-birz) release also was able to make contact with three other Americans detained there.

Warmbier, who was in a coma when he was released, suffered "extensive loss of brain tissue in all regions of the brain", one of his doctors said. 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.

The elder Warmbier said he did not believe North Korea's explanation that the coma resulted from botulism and a sleeping pill.

One of former President Barack Obama's advisers says the Obama administration had "no higher priority" than securing the release of Americans detained overseas but North Korea's isolation "posed unique challenges". North Korea claimed that Otto Warmbier fell into a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill shortly after his sentencing.

They said they had found no indication of botulism, a toxin that causes nerve damage. After a trial that lasted about an hour, he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

"I've got nothing from my experiences with him that would suggest he would do something like that", Gratton said.

The 22-year-old arrived back in the U.S. on Tuesday after being detained in the pariah state since January 2016.

Otto Warmbier was returned to the United states and his home state of OH on Tuesday.

"We've been to Washington D.C. Over a dozen times", said Warmbier.

"The question is, 'Do I think the past administration could have done more?' I think the results speak for themselves", Fred Warmbier, the 22-year-old's father said Thursday.

An Ohio hospital spokeswoman says the American college student who was released by North Korea in a coma suffered a "severe neurological injury".

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.

But Warmbier cited two factors that he feels precipitated his son's release: the arrival of the Trump administration, and the efforts of Joseph Yun, the State Department's point man on North Korea. "A really good trip", Dennis Rodman said upon his return.

The contrast of the black Cincinnati night sky, combined with Lunken Airport airport's bright spotlights, made it almost impossible to see anything that was happening as medical personnel carried Warmbier's limp body down the plane's steps, says Reuters photographer Bryan Woolston.

'I just said kind of quite nervously, 'Well, that's the last we'll see of you.' There's a great irony in those words'.

The group landed in Beijing Capital International Airport, but when their tour guide called a colleague, who was with Warmbier still in North Korea, he said he couldn't travel because he felt ill.

Although U.S. citizens are not banned from visiting North Korea, the U.S. State Department strongly advises against it.

"There are three other Americans now being held in North Korea".

The other Americans held by Pyongyang are Kim Sang Duk and Kim Hak-song, academics who worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, and businessman named Kim Dong Chul.

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