Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Economy | By Guillermo Lane

Former NBA bad boy Rodman is back in North Korea

Former NBA bad boy Rodman is back in North Korea

Otto Warmbier, a USA university student held captive in North Korea for 17 months, has been released, but a former US official said on Tuesday he is in a coma and in urgent need of medical care. "We wish him well, but we have issued travel warnings to Americans and suggested they not travel to North Korea for their own safety", U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon told reporters after discussing the North Korean missile threat and other issues with Japanese counterparts.

The University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati who publicly confessed to trying to steal a propaganda banner left North Korea on Tuesday morning, a foreign ministry official confirmed. Swedish diplomats, who represent US interests in Pyongyang, were able to check in on Warmbier recently and reported that the young American was in a coma after being stricken with what appeared to be a case of botulism. As North Korea maintains a relentless quest to develop a missile capable of reaching the United States mainland and has conducted a number of nuclear tests this year, Warmbier's release is as confounding as it is welcomed. It is unclear what the status of the other three American citizens held in North Korea is, but this process jump-started the expedited release of Warmbier.

According to U.S. media, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, Otto's parents, were told by North Korea officials that their son had suffered from botulism following his trial and fell into a coma after taking a sleeping pill.

Mr Rodman is a friend of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and has made several visits to the country in recent years. He said Warmbier, of Cincinnati, was en route to the U.S.

Warmbier's father Fred Warmbier told the Washington Post that "our son is coming home".

Mr Warmbier's release comes hours after United States basketball star Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea. They said they were told their son has been in a coma since his trial - when he was last seen in public - and they had learned of this only one week ago. The announcement came shortly after former National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman arrived in Pyongyang for a return visit to North Korea.

In the 1990s he visited at President Clinton's request to secure the release of the pilot of a USA helicopter downed after unintentionally straying across the DMZ during a routine training mission (a second pilot was killed); and to bring home an American man accused of espionage after swimming across a river on the North Korea-China border.

They also said they are grateful he "will finally be with people who love him". "According to our laws, he was arrested at Pyongyang International Airport at 8 a.m., April 22", KCNA stated in May, while providing no further information on his actions.

Certainly Mr. Trump is aware of Mr. Rodman's visit, but the former athlete's trip doesn't have official backing.

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The basketballer said, on this trip, his aim is to try to "bring sports to North Korea".

However, he added that Trump would be happy with the trip as he was "trying to accomplish something we both need", prompting speculation he could potentially be pserving as the administration as an unofficial envoy.

A White House official says the May meeting in Oslo was attended by Joseph Yun, the USA envoy to North Korea.

An American student who was serving a 15-year prison term in North Korea has been released and is on his way home to the United States, according to the State Department.

Warmbier would have graduated in May.

"What an incredible day for one of our citizens who was held in North Korea for more than a year", Nauert said.

A senior Trump Administration official told Fox News that Rodman was going to the North "as a private citizen".

The White House says securing the release of an American college student from a North Korean prison "was a big priority" for President Donald Trump.

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