American Student Freed By North Korea Arrives Home

US officials appeared to brush aside any speculation of a connection between Rodman's controversial visit and Warmbier's release. "We'll be relieved to have him home and are looking forward to surrounding him with people who love him". Warmbier was released by North Korea, where he was serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor for alleged anti-state acts. Fowle left a Bible in a local club hoping a North Korean would find it, which is considered a criminal offence in North Korea. And how does the Trump administration respond?

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the State Department secured Warmbier's release at the direction of President Donald Trump.

How harsh is prison in North Korea?

Warmbier's release came during a visit to North Korea by former National Basketball Association star Dennis Rodman, one of few people to have met both North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, who was Rodman's boss on "Celebrity Apprentice".

Tillerson consulted with Trump and arrangements were made for Yun and a medical team to travel to Pyongyang, the official said.

Mr Warmbier was supposed to graduate from the university in May. "We expect there will be a detailed description of the release through the diplomatic channel (with the US)", Lee Duk-haeng, spokesman at the Ministry of Unification, said in a press briefing.

But on his final night in Pyongyang - New Year's Eve - he apparently went to a staff-only floor of his hotel and attempted to take down a large propaganda sign lauding the regime. He was sentenced to 15 years with hard labor after an hour-long trial.

While the release of the USA citizen might send a signal about eased tensions between Pyongyang and Washington, the DPRK Monday also expressed nostalgia for a period of relaxed relations with South Korea from 2000 to 2007, by marking the signing of the historic 2000 North-South Joint Declaration on inter-Korean relations. On the same trip, he suggested that an American missionary was at fault for his own imprisonment in North Korea, remarks for which he later apologized.

But in Pyongyang, the Swedes were allowed to see only one detainee, and it wasn't Warmbier. According to the New York Times, American officials suspect that Warmbier's condition could be the result of brutality he may have suffered at the hands of prison guards, given that the North Korean regime has a history of mistreating prisoners. "This is him freelancing", the official told Reuters.

"Well, I'm pretty sure he's pretty much happy with the fact that I'm over here trying to accomplish something that we both need", Rodman said in Beijing when asked if Trump was aware of the trip.

The United States has accused Pyongyang of holding the detainees as political pawns for negotiations with Washington.

Rodman's first visit to North Korea set a terrifically zany precedent.

"It wasn't a situation where they asked", one official said of the USA representatives.

Mr Tillerson told the Senate foreign relations committee yesterday that it was time for the United States to work with other nations to deny the North access to supplies such as oil, amid fears that the regime is making progress toward a ballistic missile that could hit America.

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

Sen. Rob Portman of OH said in a statement that Tillerson had confirmed to him Warmbier's release. A plane carrying Warmbier arrived at a Cincinnati airport around 10:20 p.m. Tuesday.

Fred and Cindy Warmbier said they have been told their son has been in a coma since March 2016, and they had learned of this only one week ago. His parents say he has been in a coma and was medically evacuated. However, it must do so without making the kind of outlandish concessions that the Obama administration made as a matter of course to secure the release of USA citizens held by Iran.

Tillerson did not elaborate on Warmbier's current health condition, and said he would not be offering additional comment out of respect for the family's privacy.

"It was very North Korean", noted one pundit on CNN.

Thus, nothing more than a New Year's Eve college prank was elevated to phony charges that Warmbier had committed an act tantamount to trying to overthrow the government.

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

USA officials refused to comment on Warmbier's condition, but former ambassador and New Mexico governor Bill Richardson said he had spoken with the family.

It is good to have him returned to his family and to better medical care.

Republican Senator Rob Portman says North Korea should be "universally condemned for its abhorrent behavior". 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 goal right now".