Otto Warmbier’s parent spoke for the first time since their son passed away 3 months ago in June, six days after he was returned from North Korea in a coma where he had been tortured. They called North Korea a “terrorist” as they described the heart wrenching condition their son was in when they first saw him.
Speaking for the first time to Fox & Friends’ on Tuesday morning, Fred and Cindy Warmbier revealed the horrific state their son was in when he was returned to the United States from North Korea where he was tortured to a coma by the brutal regime.
“We’re here to tell you, as witnesses to the terror of their regime, North Korea is not a victim. We felt it was time to tell the truth about the condition that Otto was in.” said Cindy Warmbier.
According to Fred, their 22-year-old son was blind, deaf and had mangled teeth when they first laid eyes on him after he was brought back to the US following his brutal 18 months imprisonment at the hands of Kim Jong Un’s regime.
Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years in a North Korean prison in March 2016 after being accused of trying to steal a propaganda poster from his hotel. He was released in June while in a coma and died shortly after.
Doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said Warmbier had sustained a severe neurological injury that most likely happened shortly after his sentencing and before April 2016.
Fred and Cindy Warmbier told Fox News on Tuesday that they heard a ‘howling’ sound when they walked up the steps of the private medical plane carrying their son after it landed in Cincinnati, Ohio back on June 13.
“We walked over to the plane, the engines are still humming, they had just landed…when we got halfway up the steps we heard this howling, involuntary, inhuman sound. We weren’t really certain what it was,” said Fred.
They quickly realized it was their son Otto as they saw him screaming and jerking violently on a stretcher. “We looked in and Otto was on the stretcher across in the plane and he was jerking violently, making these inhuman sounds.”
The sound and sight of Otto was so horrifying that his mother and sister ran away and got off the plane. Mr. Warmbier and his other son, Austin, walked over to Otto.
“Otto had a shaved head, he had a feeding tube coming out of his nose, he was staring blankly into space, jerking violently,” Fred.
“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 rearranged his bottom teeth.”
Otto’s father, Fred, then explained that within 2 days of their son’s arrival, he developed a fever and they also noticed he had a large scar on his right foot.
Otto’s mother, Cindy, then said they had only been told that their son had suffered brain damaged when it was revealed the North Korean regime was returning Otto to his family on “humanitarian release.”
“We’re proud of him, but no mother, no parent should ever have gone through what we went through,” Cindy Warmbier said.
They said the reality of his injuries were much more severe than they could ever have imagined.
“We thought he was in a coma. You couldn’t call it a coma,” she said.
“What we pictured, because we’re optimists, is that Otto would be asleep and maybe in a medically induced coma and then when our doctors here would work with him and he’d get the best care and love that he would come out of it.
“Our image of Otto, as you know, was of someone just wonderful, beautiful inside and out. And to see how he came home was too much for us.
“I almost passed out but I got it together and I rode in the ambulance with him. I did not want him to be alone anymore. He’d been alone for way too long. We stayed with him and loved him as best as we could,” Said Cindy.
His parents said Otto spent his final days jerking and moaning in the tortured state before he died at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center on June 19.
The University of Virginia student was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years hard labour in North Korea after he was accused of stealing a propaganda poster from the hotel where he had been staying during a brief tourist visit.
North Korean officials claimed that Otto had contracted botulism – a form of food poisoning – a day after he was jailed. They claimed that a sleeping pill they gave him sent him into a coma.
The American doctors who reviewed MRI scans that were sent back on a private medical plane with him say they saw no evidence of botulism. They did say he had suffered extensive brain loss.
The Warmbiers said they have had some time to heal in the three months since they buried their son but decided to speak out after seeing North Korea try to victimize themselves.
“We see North Korea claiming to be a victim and that the world is picking on them and we’re here to tell you: North Korea is not a victim. They’re terrorists,” Fred said.
“They kidnapped Otto. They tortured him. They intentionally injured him. They are not victims.”
Cindy said she felt Otto had only been sent home because the North Koreans knew he was about to die.
Otto’s parents reiterated their belief that North Korea should be listed as a state sponsor of terror.
Fred has previously criticized former president Barack Obama’s administration for how little it did for their son, saying officials had counseled the family against speaking out to avoid antagonizing the North Korean regime.
President Donald Trump tweeted shortly after the Warmbier’s interview aired, saying: “Great interview on @foxandfriends with the parents of Otto Warmbier: 1994 – 2017. Otto was tortured beyond belief by North Korea.”
Trump had previously blamed North Korea’s ‘brutal regime’ for Warmbier’s plight but it was the first time the president publicly accused North Korea of torture in the case.
US officials have said Trump was personally taken aback by Warmbier’s death and his comment Tuesday ratchets up the pressure on Kim Jong-Un’s regime.
They instead saw the reality of torture at the hands of Kim Jong Un’s brutal regime: their son was now blind and deaf, with mangled teeth, jerking violently and moaning on a stretcher with a feeding tube coming out of his nose.