High-level USA visit leads North Korea to free student in coma


Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate who has been imprisoned in North Korea since January 2016, is transferred by medical personnel from a transport aircraft to an ambulance at Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport on Tuesday night.

Warmbier was released "at the direction of the president", Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement Tuesday, adding the department was continuing discussions with the North regarding three other American detainees.

An American student who fell into a coma while imprisoned in a North Korean labor camp returned to the United States late Tuesday after Pyongyang allowed him to be flown home, USA media reported. He is on a Medivac flight on his...

"Everybody feels a sense of relief that he is coming back to the United States", resident Amy Mayer said before he arrived.

In a statement from Cindy and Fred Warmbier, to CNN, Otto's parents confirmed his condition and the timeline of how they were notified before condemning how their family "have been brutalized and terrorized" by the ordeal. The North Koreans agreed and he was flown out on Tuesday, the official said.

"We pray for him and pray for his family", Shannon said, without providing other information.

Rodman's current trip is his first since Trump, his former "Celebrity Apprentice" boss, became president. Swedish diplomats, who represent USA interests in Pyongyang, were able to check in on Warmbier recently and reported that the young American was in a coma after being stricken with what appeared to be a case of botulism.

Previous detainees have been released after visits from high-profile Americans, including former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

The announcement comes as former National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman is paying a return visit to North Korea.

Less is known about these three prisoners than Warmbier, whose friends and family have helped shed some light on his odd and unfortunate case.

James Leigh, a Canadian visitor to North Korea, told Radio Free Asia he was in the same detention room as Tony Kim, aka Kim Sang Duk, who was detained April 22.

In Seoul, South Korea, U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon said "we pray for him and we pray for his family".

An American college student has arrived in OH after being released by North Korea, where he was serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor for alleged anti-state acts. A department of state spokeswoman said the former basketball player had nothing to do with Warmbier's release.

At a press conference before his trial, a sobbing Warmbier said he had made "the worst mistake of my life" and pleaded to be released.

US officials appeared to brush aside any speculation of a connection between Rodman's controversial visit and Warmbier's release.

Richardson, a former Democratic congressman, U.N. Ambassador, U.S. energy secretary and ex-governor of New Mexico, welcomed Warmbier's release but said "we are deeply concerned regarding his health". He said that over the past 18 months, Warmbier's family has "had to endure more than any family should have to bear".

It is unclear what the status of the other three American citizens held in North Korea is, but this process jump-started the expedited release of Warmbier. Let me reiterate this: "We strongly, strongly suggest that Americans do not go to North Korea".

Warmbier would have graduated from U.Va. last month had he not been detained. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported his arrest for "hostile acts" toward the state the following day, but offered no details about his age, occupation or alleged crime. He was sentenced in March after a televised tearful public confession to trying to steal a propaganda banner.