Fred Warmbier, the father of US college student Otto Warmbier, who landed in the US yesterday after being held prisoner in North Korea for 17 months, addressed the press to discuss his son's experiences in the rogue nation's prisons, his current medical condition, and the Obama Administration's failure to secure his release.
The University of Virginia student had been arrested by North Korean officials last year and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, after he was charged with trying to take a propaganda banner from an area reserved for North Korean staff and forbidden to foreigners at the Yanggakdo International Hotel, where he was staying as part of a New Year’s tour group.
He arrived in the US in a coma, and was immediately taken to the University of Cincinnati Hospital Medical Center.
Wearing the same coat Otto wore during his videotaped 'confession,' Fred thanked "everyone who has shatred their thoughts and best wishes with the Warmbier family during the past 17 months. The burden of our ordeal has been eased by the support we have experienced."
Holding back tears, Fred said that his wife was by Otto's side, "as she has been since the moment he returned to Ohio."
"She and I firmly believe that [Otto] fought to stay alive through the worst that the North Koreans could put him through.
"Last evening, we received a very nice phone call from President Trump, who told us that Secretary of State Tillerson worked hard to help bring Otto home. We are extremely grateful for their efforts and concern.
He said that the family had not heard anything about their son for 15 months, and that it was only a week ago that they found out that Otto had been in a coma for about a year.
"There is no excuse for any civilized nation to have kept his condition secret and denied him top notch medical care for so long.
He praised the Trump Administration's more aggressive approach to bringing Otto home, as opposed to the more low-key approach of the Obama Administration.
"When Otto was first taken we were advised by the past administration to take a low profile while they worked to obtain his release. We did so without resolve.
"Earlier this year Cindi and I decided the time for strategic patience was over, and we made a few media appearances and traveled to Washington to meet with Ambassador Joe Yun at the State Department. It is my understanding that Ambassador Yun and his team, at the direction of the president, aggressively pursued resolution of the situation. They have our thanks for bringing Otto home."
He called on North Korea to release all other Americans it currently holds prisoner.