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Father of student held captive in North Korea thankful for return

(WSYX/WTTE)

The family of Otto Warmbier, student who was held captive in North Korea, spoke to the media for the first time since Warmbier's return stateside.

Fred and Cindy Warmbier said they learned a week ago that their son has been in a coma for more than a year.

"We want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime in North Korea," the Warmbiers said in a written statement. "We are so grateful he will finally be with people who love him."

Warmbier was serving a 15-year prison term in March 2016 after a televised tearful public confession to trying to steal a propaganda banner.

The State Department secured Warmbier's release at President Donald Trump's direction.

The University of Cincinnati Medical Center at the beginning of the press conference said Otto remained in "stable" condition, but had severe neurological issues.

Fred Warbier then thanked the Trump administration for Otto Warmbier's return.

"Last evening, we received a very nice phone call from President Trump," Warmbier said. "He told us that Secretary of State Tillerson worked hard to help bring Otto home. We are extremely grateful for their efforts and concern."

Fred Warmbier wore the jacket Otto wore before the start of his prison sentence during the press conference.

Fred Warmbier said he hadn't heard from his son in over 15 months, and said he didn't believe what North Korean officials were telling him about his son.

Although Fred Warmbier said he was proud of his son for being adventurous and going to North Korea, he advised other Americans to not take the trip.

Warmbier added that Dennis Rodman's trip to North Korea had nothing to do with Otto's release. He said the world may never know why North Korea decided to release him, but thanked Secretary of State Tillerson and President Trump for working hard to bring him home.

"I know you have many questions about what transpired; so do we," Warmbier said. "There's no excuse for the way the North Koreans treated our son. And no excuse for the way they've treated so many others."

In Warmbier's opinion, the Obama administration could have done more to secure a release.

ABC 6/FOX 28 will continue to follow Otto Warmbier's recovery.

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