Published: Thu, June 15, 2017
Local | By Ada Griffith

Former NBA player Dennis Rodman arrives in North Korea


An American college student has arrived in Ohio, USA, after being released by North Korea, where he was serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor for alleged anti-state acts.

Warmbier, 22, a University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati, arrived in the USA on Tuesday evening, witnesses said.

A source familiar with the government's efforts to free Warmbier says the State Department learned about the student's medical condition about a week ago.

Warmbier, a University of Virginia undergraduate, was visiting the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, as part of a student tour group.

Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in March 2016 for subversion.

"At the direction of the president, the Department of State has secured the release of Otto Warmbier from North Korea", the department announced in a statement attributed to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

PYONGYANG-Dennis Rodman, the former National Basketball Association bad boy who has palled around with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, flew to Pyongyang on Tuesday on a trip he says he hopes will "open a door" for his former "Celebrity Apprentice" boss-U.S. President Donald Trump. The then-21-year-old student was accused of trying to steal propaganda signage from a restricted area in his hotel and convicted of committing "hostile acts" toward the regime of Kim Jong Un.

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

Imprisoned in North Korea are three of a U.S. citizen.

Warmbier appeared emotional at a news conference organized by the North Koreans before his trial in March 2016.

The New York Times quoted a senior U.S. official as saying Washington recently received intelligence reports that Warmbier had been repeatedly beaten in custody.

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- South Korean-born USA citizen Kim Dong Chul, who was sentenced in April 2016 to 10 years in prison with hard labor after being convicted of espionage.

But North Korea has so far rejected South Korean civic groups' bids to visit the North for exchanges, taking issue with South Korea's support of the latest United Nations sanctions.

Tillerson called Trump at 8:35 a.m. Tuesday to inform him that Warmbier was on an airplane en route to the United States, an official said.

Tillerson, at a U.S. Senate hearing on Tuesday, declined to comment on Warmbier's condition.

We learn from this that the Trump administration has standard diplomatic channels to North Korea, and that the North Korean government uses those channels and wants to keep lines open by making appropriate humanitarian gestures like the repatriation of Mr. Warmbier. North Korea is not to be trusted, either in what it says or what it does. Washington and Pyongyang are negotiating for their release.

"Otto has left North Korea", his parents said in a statement to CNN. In 2014, Rodman arranged a basketball game with other former NBA players and North Koreans and regaled leader Kim with a rendition of "Happy Birthday". James Bernat, a coma expert at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire, told the Washington Post that the probability of a person recovering from a coma or vegetative state depends heavily on how long the condition has lasted.

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. 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.

Yun was under orders, which the official said came directly from Trump, to demand to see Warmbier immediately and, "if he was in bad shape", to demand his immediate release.

After the Swedish diplomats met with the detained Americans, the North Koreans urgently asked to have a meeting with the U.S.in NY.

Previous detainees have been released after visits from high-profile Americans, including former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

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