The parents of Otto Warmbier on Tuesday spoke out for the first time since their son’s death, calling 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 after being accused of trying 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 that most 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,” Warmbier’s mother, Cindy, told “Fox & Friends.”
“When we got halfway up the steps” of the plane, added Warmbier’s father, Fred, “we heard this howling, involuntary, inhuman sound.” He continued: “We looked in and Otto was on the stretcher across in the plane and he was jerking violently, making these inhuman sounds.”
Fred Warmbier said his wife and their daughter, Greta, ran off the plane but he and their other son, Austin, walked over to Otto. He said Warmbier had a shaved head and a feeding tube coming 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 Warmbier said.
“North Korea is not a victim – they are terrorists. They kidnapped Otto, they tortured him, they intentionally injured him,” Fred Warmbier said, calling for North Korea to be designated a state sponsor of terrorism.
North Korea denied torturing and mistreating Warmbier, saying his death was “a mystery to us as well” and the accusations were part of a smear campaign against the country.
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 weren’t flying in its airspace.