American Student Freed By North Korea Arrives Home

Judith Bessette
Junho 19, 2017

The U.S. Department of State announced that Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student, was released after 17 months of detention.

Surrounded by North Korean guards, Warmbier delivered a highly scripted "confession" that appeared to have been written for him, and after an hour-long sham trial in March 2016, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor. In January 2016, he was detained at the airport in Pyongyang while trying to take out a poster of political content.

Richardson said that U.S. officials had only found out about Warmbier's condition a week earlier and that "in no uncertain terms, North Korea must explain the cause of his coma".

He said the USA continues to have talks with Pyongyang about three other American citizens who are reportedly detained in the North.

Asked whether the U.S. wanted to see an Iran-style global embargo to deny exports of petroleum and other products to North Korea, Mr Tillerson said that this would only work if Russian Federation and China co-operated.

In rare high-level contacts, Yun met senior North Korean officials in Oslo in May, where it was agreed that Swedish officials in Pyongyang, who handle USA consular affairs there, would be allowed to see all four American detainees, a State Department official said.

"Out of respect for the privacy of Mr. Warmbier and his family", said Tillerson, "we have no further comment".

He was given a sleeping pill after becoming ill after his trial previous year and did not wake up, North Korea said.

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) - Dennis Rodman, the former National Basketball Association bad boy who has palled around with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, began sightseeing in Pyongyang on Wednesday during a trip he said he hoped would "open a door" for his former "Celebrity Apprentice" boss - President Donald Trump.

A plane carrying Warmbier, 22, touched down in Cincinnati on Tuesday night, after a stop at a US military facility near Sapporo, Japan. "We expect there will be a detailed description of the release through the diplomatic channel (with the U.S.)", Lee Duk-haeng, spokesman at the Ministry of Unification, said in a press briefing.

He was met by North Korean Vice Minister of Sports Son Kwang Ho at the airport, saying then, "I'm just here to see some friends and have a good time".

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Mr. Rodman is a Hall of Fame professional basketball player who formed a personal relationship with the diminutive North Korean dictator Kim several years ago, traveling to North Korea to give basketball demonstrations. He has been roundly criticized for visiting during a time of high tensions between the US and North Korea over its weapons programs. It was the last time he was seen publicly. "North Korea is persecuting their savior, a person who came to help them".

Air Koryo, North Korea's national carrier, remains exempt from aviation sanctions and still has scheduled flights to China and Russian Federation, as well as several domestic routes. The North Koreans agreed to allow consular visits to four Americans held in the North.

Certainly Mr. Trump is aware of Mr. Rodman's visit, but the former athlete's trip doesn't have official backing.

"The Secretary of State has confirmed to me that Otto has been released by North Korea, and is being returned to his family", the Ohio Republican said in a statement.

Warmbier was to have graduated last month had he not been detained.

North Korea will top the agenda at next week's high-level talks between USA and Chinese officials, he added.

In the past, North Korea has held out until senior USA officials or statesmen came to personally bail out detainees.

United Nations sanctions limit North Korea's diplomats overseas - at the country's Berlin embassy, for example - to only one bank account each.

Rodman's current trip is his first since Trump, his former "Celebrity Apprentice" boss, became president.

A Cincinnati man was released from a North Korean prison Tuesday after being incarcerated for more than 15 months for what the Democratic People's Republic of Korea described as hostile acts against the regime.

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