In typical form, Obama was more concerned about his own image.
Fred Warmbier also dismissed whatever efforts were made on behalf of his 22-year-old son Otto by the Obama administration, which asked the family to keep a low profile when news of Otto’s arrest became public.
“The results speak for themselves,” he said in a news conference, adding that President Trump, by contrast, reached out to him personally.
“Last evening, we received a very nice phone call from Pres. Trump, who told us that Sec. of State Tillerson worked hard to bring Otto home. We are extremely grateful for their efforts and concern,” he said.
At the same news conference a spokeswoman for the University of Cincinnati Medical Center reported that Otto suffered a “severe neurological injury” and was in “satisfactory” condition.
Warmbier said his son “fought to stay alive” while in captivity since January 2016. “Otto is a fighter,” he said. “I’m so proud of Otto, my son, who has been in a pariah regime for the last 18 months – brutalized and terrorized.”
“His spirit is with us and I can share his spirit with my spirit,” said Warmbier, who was wearing the very same light-colored blazer his son wore during his trial in North Korea in March 2016.
His disgust for the Pyongyang regime was crystal clear. “We went for 15 months without a word from or about Otto. It was only a week ago that we were informed that the North Korean government now claims he was in a coma for almost all of that time. Even if you believe their explanation of botulism and a sleeping pill causing the coma — and we don’t — there is no excuse for any civilized nation to have kept his condition secret and denied him top notch medical care for so long. North Korea is a pariah regime, they’re brutal (feed loses quality) and they’re terroristic.”
Warmbier, a University of Virginia student, was detained on Jan. 2, 2016, at Pyongyang International Airport, while visiting the country as a tourist with Young Pioneer Tours. He was charged with stealing the sign from a staff-only floor in the Yanggakdo International Hotel in Pyongyang and committing “crimes against the state.” He was given a one-hour trial in March 2016, when the government presented fingerprints, CCTV footage and pictures of a political banner to make its case against the American student. “I beg that you see how I am only human,” Warmbier said at his trial. “And how I have made the biggest mistake of my life.”
Despite his pleas, the college student was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. In a post-trial video released to the world, Warmbier, under obvious duress, praised his captors for his treatment and for handling of the case “fair and square.”
Before Thursday’s news conference, a U.S. official had told Fox News that Warmbier was in a coma for “over a year.” The official added that the North Koreans told the U.S. that Warmbier contracted botulism and slipped into a coma after taking a sleeping pill. Neither the family nor doctors treating Warmbier have commented on that claim.
Fred Warmbier also criticized the companies that profit off young people’s naïve willingness to visit North Korea. “The North Koreans lure Americans to travel to North Korea via tour groups run out of China, who advertise slick ads on (feed loses quality) the internet proclaiming no American ever gets detained off of our tours and this is a safe place to go.”
In Wyoming, Ohio, a Cincinnati suburb, friends and neighbors of Warmbier said they were elated the young man was home but expressed grave concern over his condition.
“We’re very concerned for his health and future,” said neighbor Tom Purdy. “We hope he can return to normal. We’ve been praying for him every night.”
At Wyoming High School, where Warmbier attended, students described him as an “outstanding person” who was known in the community for his academic achievements and athleticism.
Foreigners who have been detained or imprisoned in the Hermit Kingdom often have a shared experience: confusion, forced confessions, communication blackouts and isolation.
Warmbier’s release leaves three U.S. citizens currently known to be held in North Korea: accounting professor Kim Sang Duk, businessman Kim Dong Chul and Kim Hak-Song, who worked at Pyongyang University.
When asked what advice he might have for their families, Warmbier said he had none. “I wouldn’t know what to say to them,” he said. “This is, I’ve been told, not precedented.”