American student Otto Warmbier speaks as he is presented to reporters in Pyongyang, North Korea. More than 15 months after he gave a staged confession in North Korea, he was brought home to the US and died shortly after
American student Otto Warmbier speaks as he is presented to reporters in Pyongyang, North Korea. More than 15 months after he gave a staged confession in North Korea, he was brought home to the US and died shortly after AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon

Otto Warmbier ordeal: ‘We heard this howling, inhuman sound’

THE parents of a US student who died after being jailed in North Korea have branded the country "terrorists" and broken their silence on the "inhuman" suffering he was subjected to.

Fred and Cindy Warmbier have spoken for the first time since their son Otto died six days after returning from North Korea in a coma in June.

The 22-year-old University of Virginia student had been held in detention in the rogue state since March 2016 where he was sentenced to 15 years hard labour for allegedly trying to steal a poster.

His parents told Fox and Friends three months on from his death they were incensed North Korea were claiming to be a victim in an escalating war of words with US President Trump.

"We see North Korea claiming to be a victim and that the world is picking on them and we're here to tell you North Korea is not a victim, they're terrorists," Otto's father Fred Wambier said.

"They kidnapped Otto, they tortured him, they intentionally injured him. They are not victims they're terrorists."

The distraught parents revealed the shocking moment they met their son when he arrived from North Korea. They had been told he was in a coma with brain damage, which Mrs Warmbier said they underestimated.

"What we pictured, because we're optimists, was that Otto would be asleep and then maybe in a medically-induced coma. And when our doctors here would work with him and he would get the best care and love that he would come out of it," she said.

Instead, Mr Warmbier described how the family climbed the steps of the plane with the engine still running, along with their other children Austin and Greta.

"When we got halfway up the steps we heard this howling involuntary, inhuman sound," he said.

"We weren't really certain what it was. We climbed to the top of the steps, we looked in and Otto was on the stretcher across the plane and he was jerking violently making these inhuman sounds.

Mourners line the street after the funeral of Otto Warmbier, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Wyoming, Ohio. Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student who was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years in prison with hard labor in North Korea, died this week, days after returning to the United States. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)
Mourners line the street after the funeral of Otto Warmbier, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Wyoming, Ohio. Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student who was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years in prison with hard labor in North Korea, died this week, days after returning to the United States. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston) Bryan Woolston

"Cindy and Greta ran off the plane. Austin and I walked over to Otto. He had a shaved head, he had a feeding tube coming out of his nose. He was staring blankly into space, jerking violently. He was blind, he was deaf. As we looked at him and tired to comfort him. It looked like someone had taken a pair of pliers and tried to rearrange his bottom teeth.

"Within two days of Otto being home, his fever spiked to 104 degrees. He had a large scar on his right foot. North Korea is not a victim ... they purposefully and intentionally injured Otto."

North Korea has previously denied mistreating the student.

The Warmbiers now want North Korea listed as a state sponsor of terrorism. The segment also caught the eye of the President, who tweeted that Otto was tortured "beyond belief' by North Korea in his latest social media salvo fired at the state.

The comments come at the lowest point in decades between the two countries, after North Korea said it took Trump's previous tweets as a declaration of war.

Earlier, Trump tweeted that he heard North Korea's ambassador speak at the UN and: "If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!"

North Korea said it would shoot down US planes in response, forcing the White House to backtrack to say it was "absurd" to suggest it had declared war.

On Tuesday, China and Russia stressed the catastrophic consequences a war on the Korean peninsula would bring. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said all sides should avoid provocation.

"A war on the Korean Peninsula will have no winner, which will also be a tragedy for regional countries," Lu told reporters at a daily briefing.

"Given our consistent opposition to the war and chaos on the peninsula, we totally disapprove of an escalation of the war of words between the US and North Korea."

News Corp Australia


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