American Otto Warmbier Has Been Released From A North Korean Prison

"The Secretary of State has confirmed to me that Otto has been released by North Korea, and is being returned to his family".

The last time Dennis Rodman visited North Korea, he delighted the country's young ruler with a rendition of "Happy Birthday", suffered an angry meltdown on CNN while defending his trip and spent time at a rehab facility after returning to the United States in rough shape.

Warmbier's release comes amid simmering tensions between the USA and North Korea, largely owing to Pyongyang's continued testing of nuclear-capable missiles.

Rodman's 2013 trip came just two weeks after North Korea conducted the first of three underground nuclear tests it has done under the rule of Kim, who is openly pursuing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the USA mainland.

Kenneth Bae, a past imprisoned American in North Korea, credited Rodman with being the unwitting catalyst for his release in 2014.

Mr Warmbier was charged with "hostile acts against the state" and following an hour-long trial in March 2016, was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labour.

He had been arrested in early January as he tried to leave North Korea after visiting the country with a tour group.

North Korean officials told Mr Warmbier's family he fell ill from botulism after his trial then went into a coma after taking a sleeping pill.

Former NBA star player Dennis Rodman is expected to arrive in North Korea today for a trip of unknown goal.

Americans are regarded as enemies in North Korea because the two countries never signed a peace treaty to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War. In a tearful televised confession before his Supreme Court trial, he said he wanted the banner "as a trophy" for the mother of a friend. "He is going as a private citizen", the official said. Today, University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan released a statement saying that while the school's "community is relieved to learn of Otto's release from North Korea, we are deeply concerned and saddened to learn from his family that he is in a coma". "In no uncertain terms North Korea must explain the causes of his coma".

"But one thing we know is that Trump is transactional", said one person who works on North Korea, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the discussions. "We learned of this only one week ago", said Fred and Cindy Warmbier in a statement.

The State Department is continuing to discuss the situation of three other detained Americans with North Korea, Tillerson said.

At the time, North Korea claimed Mr Warmbier committed an anti-state crime with "the tacit connivance of the U.S. government and under its manipulation".

Jeffrey Fowle, another USA tourist from OH detained for six months at about the same time as Miller, was released just before that and sent home on a US government plane.

  • Leroy Wright