Doctors say United States student freed by North Korea has severe brain damage

Doctors: Ex-North Korea detainee Otto Warmbier has severe brain injury

The hermit state freed Otto Warmbier on Tuesday after about 17 months in custody.

He excelled in academics, graduating from Wyoming High School in 2013 as his class salutatorian and getting a scholarship to the University of Virginia.

A magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, scan of Warmbier showed "extensive loss of brain tissue in all regions of the brain", Dr. Daniel Kanter, professor of neurology and director of the Neurocritical Care Program at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, told reporters.

His family said they only found out about the illness last week and refuted the North Korean's explanation.

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. "There is no excuse for any civilized nation to have kept his condition secret and denied him top-notch medical care for so long".

Mr. Warmbier was arrested last year during a trip to Pyongyang and given a 15-year prison term for allegedly planning hostile acts against the state. "He has not engaged in any purposeful movements", Kanter said.

Doctors indicate that Otto Warmbier's current state is consistent with the aftermath of cardiopulmonary arrest that deprives the brain of blood.

But, says Rosenberg, "Putting in place the kind of restrictions that would require US citizens to seek a license to go to North Korea - most of that falls to Congress to do".

Rodman was wearing a different T-shirt that read "Ambassador Rodman" and "I come in peace" when he left for Pyongyang, but the State Department said he was traveling in a private capacity.

A short video clip, released Thursday by Warmbier's brother, shows the 22-year-old University of Virginia student playing in the snow with friends in North Korea sometime in January 2016. 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.

Tension has escalated on the Korean peninsula over North Korea's nuclear and missile tests since past year.

Tens of thousands of people are detained across the isolated country in inhumane conditions and subjected to torture and forced labour, it said. The state-run Korean Central News Agency on Thursday didn't comment on his medical condition.

The State Department now warns Americans against travel to North Korea, but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has signaled he may go further. He says efforts to get Warmbier home never ceased.

He said officials had counseled the family to not speak out about Otto's detention, to avoid antagonizing the reclusive regime of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un. He said Obama "worked through every avenue available" to try to secure Warmbier's release. She says there are plenty of restrictions on what Americans can do in countries that face US sanctions - like North Korea or Iran. The Wall Street Journal on Thursday argued for the ban, saying about 5,000 Western tourists take risks to go there each year and highlighting "dangers amplified by heightened tension" between Washington and Pyongyang.

Their website, which uses communist imagery while offering tours of North Korea for around 1,000 euros, generally promises a safe, good time with tours around North Korea's internal holidays and customs.



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