These are the first photographs of comatose college student Otto Warmbier since his release from a North Korean prison.
Warmbier, 22, arrived at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati on Tuesday night after a stopover at a US military facility in Japan and was whisked off to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
A hospital spokeswoman said his family was expected to hold a news conference Thursday morning at Wyoming High School.
He served 18 months of a 15-year prison term in the hermit kingdom for alleged anti-state acts.
In Warmbier’s hometown of Wyoming, just outside Cincinnati, residents tied blue and white ribbons, Wyoming High School’s colors, to trees.
“Everybody feels a sense of relief that he is coming back to the United States,” resident Amy Mayer said.
“I think we’re very excited yet very prayerful about what is happening because we’ve heard he is in a coma. So I think that people are trying to be supportive of the family and let the community-family know that we are very with them,â she said.
Securing Warmbier’s release “was a big priority” for President Trump, who worked “very hard and very closely” with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
The president has also invited South Koreaâs new president, Moon Jae-in, to Washington for talks on the escalating standoff over the North’s nuclear program, according to Agence France-Presse.
Warmbier’s parents were told their son had contracted botulism and was given a sleeping pill soon after his trial in March 2016 and never awoke.
The New York Times quotedÂ a senior US official as saying authorities recently received intelligence indicating Warmbier was repeatedly beaten while in custody.
US officials refused to comment on his condition, but former ambassador and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said he had spoken with the family.
“Otto has been in a coma for over a year now and urgently needs proper medical care in the United States,” said Richardson, who has previously served as a special envoy to North Korea and still works on prisoner issues.
“We received a call from Cindy and Fred Warmbier early today to update us on Otto’s condition. In no uncertain terms, North Korea must explain the causes of his coma.”
The University of Virginia undergrad was convicted of subversion in a one-hour trial and sentenced after he tearfully confessed that he had tried to steal a propaganda banner.
With Post wires