U.S. student Otto Warmbier arrives home in coma after North Korea release

Since taking office in January, Trump has faced a growing national security challenge from North Korea, which has conducted a series of ballistic missile tests in defiance of U.S. and global sanctions. USA officials then urged those with the ability to persuade Pyongyang to ratchet up the pressure to get him released, the source said. Three Americans remain in custody.

The 22-year-old student from the University of Virginia has been in a state of coma for more than a year after contracting botulism soon after he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in a trial by the DPRK supreme court on March 16, 2016, according to USA local media.

The release of Otto Warmbier, 18 months into a 15-year sentence, came as US President Donald Trump invited South Korea's new leader Moon Jae-In to Washington for talks on the nuclear standoff.

Tillerson said in a statement that the U.S. State Department continues to have discussions with the DPRK regarding three other U.S. citizens reported detained. His parents and siblings were waiting for him at a municipal airport in Cincinnati, where Warmbier arrived shortly before 10:20 p.m.

"Our son is coming home", Fred Warmbier said to The Washington Post on Tuesday morning after his son was evacuated.

Since March previous year, Otto Warmbier was in a coma. A team was dispatched to Pyongyang and the sick University of Virginia student was handed over to USA officials.

But deplaning in North Korea wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with PotCoin.com made it clear that his earlier "basketball diplomacy" ventures with North Korea have now morphed into what some internet wags described as "weed diplomacy".

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

Before arriving this time, Rodman told reporters that Trump would be happy with the trip, since he was "trying to accomplish something that we both need", sparking speculation that he may be operating as an unofficial envoy. The official referred to them as "hostages". Officials involved in negotiations to free Warmbier and another American citizen being detained were told they were being treated as prisoners of war.

Rodman returned to North Korea sponsored by Paddy Power, the Irish betting company.

Last week North Korean officials told Yun of Warmbier's medical condition.

The official, who was not authorized to speak on the record about the sequence of events and requested anonymity, said that after Tillerson consulted with Trump, Yun was dispatched to North Korea.

The NBA Hall of Fame player arrived in Pyongyang for a four-day visit the same day Warmbier was released.

A small group of family friends was nearby to celebrate Warmbier's arrival, cheering and holding signs that read "Pray for Otto" and 'Welcome home Otto'.

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.

Before Trump became president, Rodman appeared twice on his Celebrity Apprentice show and praised the billionaire real estate developer on Twitter during the 2016 presidential election campaign. He told reporters in Beijing, as he departed for Pyongyang, that he hopes his trip will "open a door" for Trump.

Nearly immediately on taking office in January, Trump and his team - having been briefed by outgoing leader Barack Obama - declared the North's attempts to build, test and arm a nuclear-capable ballistic missile to be Washington's biggest threat. Speaking to reporters in Beijing before his arrival in Pyongyang on Tuesday, he said that the issue of several Americans detained by North Korea is "not my objective right now". A 2009 visit by former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, secured the freedom of American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling.

The North Korean court held that Warmbier had committed a crime "pursuant to the USA government's hostile policy toward (the North), in a bid to impair the unity of its people after entering it as a tourist". He worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.

  • Annette Adams


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