Doctor says Otto Warmbier has brain damage

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Otto Warmbier, who spent 17 months in a North Korean prison, was released hours before Rodman's arrival in the country.

The university student had been on a tourist trip when he was arrested and sentenced to 15 years hard labor, a punishment the USA decried as far out of proportion to his alleged crime, accusing the North of using him as a political pawn.

"He (Warmbier) has spontaneous eye opening and blinking", said Daniel Kanter, director of neurocritical care at the University of Cincinnati Health System, according to AP.

Doctors remain uncertain about the exact cause of Warmbier's condition, yet his family does not believe North Korea's claim that he fell into a coma after becoming ill with botulism and taking a sleeping pill. Warmbier made it clear he does not believe North Korea's explanation of botulism combined with a sleeping pill for Otto's condition.

To the North Korean claim that Otto suffered from botulism, Dr. Brandon Foreman said all tests have found no evidence of active botulism.

When a medical transport plane brought 22-year-old Otto Warmbier home from North Korea this week, a Reuters photographer stood on the corner of a dark tarmac behind a chain link fence - more than 300 yards away from the action.

Family says Otto Warmbier has been in a coma since March 2016, shortly after being sentenced to 15 years of hard labour. They said they wanted all to know they and their son had been "brutalised and terrorised by the pariah regime".

His family said he arrived in a state of coma.

Not until Tuesday was he finally flown home to Cincinnati, gravely ill and reportedly in a coma.

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Fred Warmbier appeared critical of the Obama administration's handling of Otto's detention, saying the family heeded the USA government's initial advice to take a low profile "without result".

Otto Warmbier has a severe brain injury and is in a state of "unresponsive wakefulness", his OH doctors said on Thursday.

However, North Korean authorities said they had security footage from the Pyongyang hotel where Warmbier was staying showing him trying to steal a banner containing a political slogan that was hanging on a wall.

"There's no excuse for the way the North Koreans treated our son", he said. His parents said that they were only informed of their son's condition a week before the release.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday his department was continuing "to have discussions" with North Korea about the release of the other three imprisoned Americans. Aside from Otto, three others Americans are still detained in the country. Medical personnel from North Korea provided several brain MRI images dating back to April 2016, the only information on Warmbier's medical treatment during detainment.

"The last time the world saw him he was a virile, young man", Woolston said. "That's not my objective right now", he said.

Warmbier had not been seen in public since his sentencing over a year ago.

Richardson, a Democrat who has made several trips to North Korea, said a forceful response from the USA government would be required "if it's determined that there was a cover-up and Otto's condition was not disclosed and he didn't get proper treatment".

In May, State Department special envoy Joe Yun met with high-level representatives from the North Korean foreign ministry on the margins of separate discussions in Norway to talk about detained American citizens.