Otto Warmbier's parents: N. Korea 'destroyed him'

Otto Warmbier's mother and sister ran off the plane when they first saw him lying on a stretcher at Lunken Airport, Otto's father Fred Warmbier said in an interview on Fox and Friends on Tuesday morning.

After being imprisoned by the North Korean government for 17 months, Warmbier, 22, was evacuated from that reclusive dictatorship — in a coma — on June 13. He was returned home to his family in Cincinnati, where he died less than a week later.

"Otto was jerking violently, making these inhuman sounds," Fred Warmbier of Wyoming said.

"Otto had a shaved head. He had a feeding tube coming out of his nose.  ... He was blind, he was deaf. As we looked at him and tried to comfort him, it looked like someone had taken a pair of pliers and re-arranged his bottom teeth."

Fred and Cindy Warmbier, of suburban Wyoming, said they decided to speak out now because they feel that North Korea is being painted as a victim in global politics right now. 

"North Korea is not a victim. They are terrorists," Fred Warmbier said.

Fred Warmbier said he and his wife were astounded to learn that North Korea is not listed as a state sponsor of terror.

"We owe it to the world to list North Korea as a state sponsor of terror."

"They destroyed him," said Cindy Warmbier.

"The fact that Otto was alone all that time was inexcusable."

Otto Warmbier went to North Korea with Young Pioneer Tours, a China-based tour company. He was arrested on Jan. 2, 2016, in Pyongyang, the nation’s capital.

He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly stealing a poster from a staff-only section of a hotel in North Korea. In a televised statement in March 2016, Otto apologized and said he was impressed by the country’s “fair and square legal procedures” and its “humanitarian treatment of severe criminals like myself.”

After Otto Warmbier returned home, Cincinnati doctors gave a press conference on Thursday to discuss his condition. They said he did not have any broken bones or marks on his body other than those which indicated medical treatment.

The doctors also said they found no indication of botulism – the explanation North Korean officials gave as leading to the coma – although it is likely the toxin would no longer be in the body after more than a year.

President Donald Trump said Otto Warmbier was "tortured beyond belief," in a tweet after the interview aired.

Relations between the United States and North Korea have rarely been worse since the Korean War in the 1950s, when U.S. troops fought with South Korea against forces from the North.

Today the stakes couldn't be higher. North Korea, an isolated nation ruled by a dictator, has an arsenal of nuclear weapons and missiles that can reach U.S. allies in the region, and possibly the U.S. mainland.

The rhetoric exchanged by Trump and Kim are the most bellicose ever between leaders of the two countries. Trump this month dismissed Kim as “rocket man" and threatened to destroy North Korea. Kim responded by calling Trump a "dotard" and compared him to a frightened dog. On Friday, Trump called Kim a "madman."

North Korea's foreign minister said Monday that President Trump has declared war on the reclusive nation and that Pyongyang has the right to shoot down U.S. military aircraft.

"Since the United States declared war on our country, we have every right to take counter measures," Ri Yong Ho told the media as he was leaving the United Nations. "Including shooting down U.S. strategic bombers, even when they are not yet inside the airspace border of our country."

Pentagon spokesman Col. Robert Manning quickly responded that "If North Korea does not stop their provocative actions, you know, we will make sure that we provide options to the president to deal with North Korea."

Later on Monday, the Trump administration said it's not seeking to overthrow North Korea's government after the president tweeted that leader Kim Jong Un "won't be around much longer" and called Pyongyang's assertion ridiculous that Donald Trump's comment amounted to a declaration of war.

© Gannett Co., Inc. 2017. All Rights Reserved


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