North Korea frees American student; parents say he's in coma

  • North Korea frees American student; parents say he's in coma

North Korea frees American student; parents say he's in coma

Otto Warmbier, an American university student held prisoner in North Korea for 17 months and said by his family to be in a coma, was medically evacuated from the reclusive country after a rare visit there from a high-level USA official.

Warmbier's release came as former United States basketball star Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea on Tuesday, returning to the nuclear-armed country where he met leader Kim Jong Un on previous visits. In court the student was convicted of "crime against the state".

Meanwhile, the White House said Moon and Trump will meet on June 29 and 30 to discuss ways of building on what America frequently calls its "ironclad" alliance with South Korea. However, nothing should be read into this coincidence, given the timeline of theTrump administration's own prior initiatives leading to the release.

North Korea says he has been in a coma for more than a year, after taking a sleeping pill while fighting food poisoning. At the same time, his trips have also faced ridicule and criticism from some US politicians and activists who view them as fodder for North Korean propaganda. Such meetings are unusual because the two governments do not have diplomatic relations.

His entourage includes Joseph Terwilliger, a professor who has accompanied Rodman on previous trips to North Korea.

But Mr Tillerson's sanctions threat will up the stakes with China, North Korea's biggest partner, and Russian Federation, the rogue regime's other main supplier.

Ellie Boettcher, a 14-year-old rising freshman at Wyoming High, where Warmbier's sister will be a sophomore, said students were elated. North Korea sentenced Warmbier to prison after he admitted trying to steal a propaganda banner during a trip there.

A military aircraft landed in Cincinnati late Tuesday night and Warmbier was reportedly taken directly to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

Otto Warmbier, an American college student jailed in North Korea, has been released, according to his parents.

There was no immediate confirmation from US officials of North Korea's description of his illness.

United States officials refused to comment on his condition, but former ambassador and New Mexico governor Bill Richardson said he had spoken with the family.

She says it's an "extremely sad" situation that student Otto Warmbier (WORM'-bir) is in a coma. "We want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime", Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in their statement. 'The journey for them has been very hard, to say the least, and they still need our support and love'.

North Korea has woefully inadequate medical care, and it is not clear how North Korean doctors had been caring for Warmbier for more than a year in an unconscious state. The official referred to them as "hostages". North Korea accuses Washington and South Korea of sending spies to overthrow its government.

During his detention, Leigh said he was provided with one meal a day, and slept on a blanket on the floor. Yun and two physicians flew to Pyongyang and visited Warmbier Monday. Warmbier was evacuated Tuesday.

As the Americans continued to push to see all four, North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations urgently requested a meeting with Yun in NY, according to Trump administration officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity about the secret arrangements.

But U.S. officials said Rodman's visit was purely coincidental. Rodman has traveled to the isolated nation four times since 2013, attracting a lot of publicity, much of it unfavorable.

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

Rodman said in a tweet ahead of his trip: "Thank you for sponsoring my mission".

"I'm just trying to open the door", the eccentric ex-Chicago Bulls power forward told reporters at Beijing airport before boarding his Air Koryo flight.

There was some speculation that he might plead the case for the American detainees, but en route to North Korea he told reporters "my goal is to actually see if I can keep bringing sports to North Korea".