The parents of Otto Warmbier spoke out for the first time Tuesday since their son’s death, called North Korea “terrorists” as they described their son’s condition when they first saw him after his captivity.
Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years in a North Korean prison in March 2016 for attempting 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, saying it that it likely happened shortly after his sentencing and before April 2016.
“We thought he was in a coma but you couldn’t call it a coma,” Cindy Warmbier, Otto’s mother, told “Fox & Friends.”
“When we got halfway up the steps [of the plane] we heard this howling, involuntary, inhuman sound,” added Fred Warmbier, his father. “We looked in and Otto was on the stretcher across in the plane and he was jerking violently, making these inhuman sounds.”
Fred said Cindy and their daughter, Greta, ran off the plane, but he and their other son, Austin, walked over to Otto. He said Otto had a shaved head, a feeding tube out of his nose and “was staring blankly into space,” adding that he was “blind” and “deaf” and that “it looked like someone had taken a pliers and rearranged his bottom teeth.”
“We’re proud of him but no mother, no parent should ever have gone through what we went through,” Cindy said.
“North Korea is not a victim, they are terrorists. They kidnapped Otto, they tortured him, they intentionally injured him,” Fred said, calling for North Korea to be designated a state sponsor of terrorism.
North Korea denied torturing and mistreating Otto, saying his death was “a mystery to us as well” and that the accusations were part of a smear campaign against the country.
The Warmbiers spoke out as tensions between the US and North Korea remain high. On Monday, North Korea called President Donald Trump’s recent tweets a declaration of war and threatened to shoot down US bombers even if they aren’t flying in its airspace.
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