University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier from suburban Cincinnati, was sentenced to a 15 year hard labor sentence in North Korea for charges of attempted theft. The claim was made that Otto tried to steal a propaganda sign, back in January of 2016 from the Yanggakdo International Hotel. Otto has since been held as a prisoner in North Korea, for 17 months. Otto was in North Koreas with the Young Pioneers Tours company while in college.
Otto’s family claimed that he was left in coma from his visit there. What exactly went on is in secret from higher up officials—is anyone’s best guess. The release of Otto came after Joseph Yun (a high-level United States official) got involved from the State Department. He demanded that Otto be released on “humanitarian grounds”.
The request was for him to be evacuated from the country immediately. Joseph Yun’s trip to North Korea was the highest official visit since James Clapper went back in 2014 to secure the release of Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller, both who were sentenced to hard labor. A confirmation made by both of Otto’s parents Fred and Cindy, confirmed that he was on his way back Tuesday evening while traveling on a medevac flight.
His parents stated:
“Sadly, he is in a coma and we have been told he has been in that condition since March of 2016. We learned of this only one week ago. We want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime in North Korea.”
Apparently, Otto fell ill from food poisoning sometime after his March 2016 trial. He got sick from improperly sterilized canned meats and/or other preserved foods. United States intelligence reports state that Otto was repeatedly beaten while he was in custody and given a sleeping pill. It is unclear whether or not North Korean reported everything factual. One odd thing remains, people with botulism (food poisoning) shouldn’t be taking sleeping pills.
The toxin in Otto’s system from food poisoning, can lead to a person experiencing facial drooping, blurred vision and speech along with difficultly swallowing. Being poisoned like this, doesn’t usually lead to unconsciousness.
Since Donald Trump has taken office as the President of the United States, he has contended with North Korea and their defiant actions against international sanctions. North Korea has since become a national and international security threat. Only time will tell, how things will unfold from this point onward.