Fred and Cindy Warmbier, the parents of Otto Warmbier, the college student jailed in North Korea, have worked tirelessly for their son’s release.
Now, Warmbier, 22, is coming home to Cincinnati, his parents say, but they told The Washington Post that he’s in a coma. The parents have appeared on television and worked with government officials to secure their son’s release since he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in a North Korean prison camp after being accused of ripping down a propaganda poster while on a 2016 tour.
The Ohio-based parents released a statement saying that they and their son had been brutalized and terrorized by the North Korean regime. In the past, they have praised President Donald Trump’s efforts to free Otto Warmbier.
He is a University of Virginia college student who was raised in Ohio.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Warmbier’s Parents Say Their Son Is In a Coma & Being Medically Evacuated From North Korea
Tragically, Otto Warmbier has been in a coma for over a year, The Washington Post is reporting. The Post reported that Warmbier “is due to arrive home in Cincinnati on Tuesday evening, having been evacuated through a U.S. military base in Sapporo, Japan” and reported that “Warmbier has been in a coma for more than a year, since shortly after his last public appearance during his trial in Pyongyang in March 2016.”
The State Department has not commented on Warmbier’s medical condition, although Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has confirmed that Warmbier is being released.
“Our son is coming home,” Fred Warmbier told The Post. “At the moment, we’re just treating this like he’s been in an accident. We get to see our son Otto tonight.”
The family released a statement that said: “Otto has left North Korea. He is on a Medivac flight on his way home. 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 Korean. We are so grateful that he will finally be with people who love him.”
2. Warmbier’s Parents Claim the Obama Administration Urged Them to Remain Quiet & Have Praised Donald Trump
In May, Warmbier’s parents went on television to praise Donald Trump and accuse former President Barack Obama’s administration of trying to keep them to remain quiet about their son’s plight.
Fred Warmbier said he and Cindy, were “urged to keep quiet” about Otto Warmbier by the Obama administration, according to Fox News.
“They feel you don’t get involved that way,” Fred said, according to Fox News. “It lets the other side solve problems and make things happen.”
Fox News reported that the Warmbiers felt hopeful that a new administration would turn things around, and quoted Cindy Warmbier as saying to Trump through the TV screen, “You are doing a great job. Thank you for putting attention on something that needs to be addressed.”
The Post reported that North Korea told the United States Warmbier was in a coma on June 5, and that Trump ordered his medical evacuation, which kept quiet until now. “This is a Trump-led effort,” the Post quoted a source as saying.
3. Fred Warmbier Kept an Image ‘In His Heart’ Of His Son Playing High School Soccer
It wasn’t that long ago, Fred Warmbier told Fox News, that his son was just a typical American high school student playing soccer.
Warmbier’s father said he clung to that image as propaganda images of his son were disseminated by the North Korean regime.
“When I see the picture of Otto going on TV with that confession, that’s not the image I have of my son in my heart,” Fred Warmbier said to Fox. “The image I have of my son is playing soccer three short years ago in high school.”
4. Fred Warmbier Owns a Metal Parts Business in Cincinnati & Otto Warmbier Was Class Salutatorian
Forbes wrote a profile on Fred Warmbier that called him an entrepreneur.
“Warmbier owns a small business, Finishing Technology, located near Cincinnati, Ohio. The company finishes and anodizes metal parts –and is growing rapidly,” wrote Forbes.
Otto Warmbier graduated from Wyoming High School in Ohio in 2013 as class Salutatorian, reported Cincinnati.com.
5. The North Koreans Paraded Otto Warmbier Before the Television Cameras
Warmbier had diverted to North Korea for a tour while on a study abroad trip to Hong Kong. While there, the North Korean regime accused him of ripping down a propaganda poster in 2016.
He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in a North Korean prison camp, and paraded before the television cameras as a propaganda tool. The North Korean government said Warmbier, who was on a trip with the Young Pioneer Tours company, tore down a propaganda poster at the Yanggakdo International Hotel, where he and about 100 other westerners were staying.
The government said the crime was act “of hostility against the state” and accused him of being affiliated with spies.
You can read more about Otto Warmbier here:
Otto Frederick Warmbier: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
A 21-year-old University of Virginia student was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor by North Korea for tearing down a propaganda banner.
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