US college student released by North Korea arrives in Ohio
- Author: Leroy Wright Jun 14, 2017,
Jun 14, 2017, 10:55
Warmbier's parents did not attend the graduation ceremony in May, but they shared the news of Otto's release with the student body via an email from University President Teresa Sullivan on Tuesday.
The announcement on Warmbier's release came as former National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman was paying a return visit to Pyongyang. Thousands of USA troops are based in South Korea, and the Demilitarized Zone between the North and South is one of the most heavily fortified borders in the world. He also appears to have prompted recent speculation that he might become Mr. Trump's ambassador to North Korea if diplomatic relations are ever established.
"Otto has left North Korea".
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.
On Tuesday, Warmbier was reportedly released from North Korea and evacuated to the US, bringing his 15-year prison sentence to an early end.
Warmbier, 22, a University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati, was on his way back to the United States, Tillerson said in a statement. Warmbier is in a coma, his father tells NPR.
The State Department denied any connection between Warmbier's release and Rodman's visit, which President Donald Trump's administration said it did not authorise.
Rodman, one of the few people to know both of the nuclear-armed leaders, sported a black T-shirt advertising a cybercurrency used to buy and sell marijuana as he talked to reporters briefly before boarding his flight from Beijing to the North Korean capital. He is scheduled to meet North Korea's sports minister before he leaves the country on Saturday. The North Korean government told his parents that food poisoning was to blame.
Rodman received the red-carpet treatment on his four past trips since 2013, which generated a lot of publicity - most of it not good - and did little in terms of diplomacy. His current visit has already been roundly criticized by some for its timing, during high tensions between the USA and North Korea over its weapons programs and recent missile launches.
Rodman said the issue of several Americans detained by North Korea is "not my goal right now", in remarks made in Beijing before the release of Warmbier was publicly disclosed.
After almost a year and a half in North Korean custody, American college student Otto Warmbier is coming back to the United States. Fred Warmbier tells NPR's Emily Kopp that he's been told his son has been in a coma since sometime after his sentencing in March of 2016.
Tillerson added that discussions are still ongoing with North Korea "regarding three other USA citizens reported detained".
The trip marks Rodman's fifth to North Korea. Rodman had told reporters before arriving in Pyongyang that the issue of Americans detained by North Korea is "not my goal right now". He has generally brushed off such criticism as unfair because as an athlete and celebrity he shouldn't be expected to solve hard political problems.
Americans are regarded as enemies in North Korea because the two countries never signed a peace treaty at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. US officials did not confirm those details.
His release came after Joseph Yun, the US State Department's special envoy on North Korea, travelled to Pyongyang and demanded Warmbier's release on "humanitarian grounds,"capping a flurry of secret diplomatic contacts, a US official said".