In the wake of an American student succumbing to a coma while detained by North Korean authorities, the United States is mulling a possible legal prohibition on Americans traveling to North Korea.
“Something like that is under consideration. I’m not going to get into what that might look like,” U.S. Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a briefing on Thursday, reports Sputnik.
Meanwhile, doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center have asserted that Otto Warmbier, has extensive brain damage and shows no current signs of botulism, as claimed by Pyongyang.
The 22-year-old has not spoken or “engaged in any purposeful movements” since arriving in the country Tuesday night, said Dr. Daniel Kanter, professor of neurology and director of the Neurocritical Care Program.
“He shows no signs of understanding language or responding to verbal commands,” the doctor said, adding that Warmbier’s condition is best described as “unresponsive wakefulness.”
“This pattern of brain injury is usually seen as result of cardiopulmonary arrest where the blood supply to brain is inadequate for a period of time resulting in the death of brain tissue,” he said.
Warmbier suffered severe neurological damage, and his family has flatly rejected the regime’s explanation for his condition, reports CNN.
Warmbier, a 22-year-old college student who returned Tuesday to the United States after 17 months in detention, is in stable condition at University of Cincinnati Medical Center but has a “severe neurological injury,” hospital spokeswoman Kelly Martin said.
However, Warmbier’s father doesn’t believe North Korea’s explanation that Otto fell into a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill shortly after he was sentenced in March 2016.
“Even if you believe their explanation of botulism and a sleeping pill causing a coma — and we don’t — there is no excuse for any civilized nation to have kept his condition a secret and denied him top-notch medical care for so long,” Fred Warmbier said.
Otto Warmbier was a University of Virginia student when he was detained in January 2016 at the airport in Pyongyang while on his way home.
North Korean authorities claimed they had security footage of him trying to steal a banner containing a political slogan that was hanging from a wall of his Pyongyang hotel.
That was used as evidence in his hourlong trial. He was found guilty of committing a “hostile act” against the country and sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years of hard labor. It was the last time he was seen publicly before this week.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)