N.Korea frees student in coma after high-level U.S. visit

20170613t142253z_831337738_rc1440695a90_rtrmadp_3_usanorthkoreadetainee

20170613t142253z_831337738_rc1440695a90_rtrmadp_3_usanorthkoreadetainee

A statement issued in NY by a Rodman publicist said the former National Basketball Association player is in the rare position of being friends with the leaders of both North Korea and the United States.

He had been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. "So, we are grateful today that he is released and he is on his way back to the United States".

Three other USA citizens are being detained in North Korea, at a time when Kim Jong Un has been firing missiles and threatening to strike the United States.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 13, 2017, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

A military aircraft landed in Cincinnati late Tuesday night, bringing American student Otto Warmbier home from captivity in North Korea.

VOA Correspondent Brian Padden reported this story from Seoul.

She spoke via Skype from Tokyo.

Administration officials said Monday was the first time the United States was able to confirm Warmbier's status after he was sentenced, and the official said Yun immediately demanded the North Koreans release Warmbier on humanitarian grounds.

And that started the ball rolling to have him medically evacuated. "Since we also have our citizens detained in the North. we are putting pressure on the North to free them through various channels", he said, vowing "utmost efforts".

Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement that they have been told their son has been in a coma since March 2016, and they had learned of this only one week ago.

In a televised trial, he was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years in prison with hard labor as he publicly confessed to trying to steal a propaganda banner. But the claim that marijuana is legal in North Korea is not true: The penal code lists it as a controlled substance in the same category as cocaine and heroin. Officials involving with securing Warmbier's release told The Washington Post that Rodman had nothing to do with it.

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"During his time in our country, USA citizen Kim Sang Duk attempted to overthrow the state, a hostile crime".

But Anna Fifield says, this time, the North had appeared unwilling to bargain.

The three are businessman Kim Dong Chul, arrested in April 2016, and two academics at the Western-funded, private Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, Tony Kim and Kim Hak-Song, arrested in April and May this year.

This has obviously led to intense speculation the former Chicago Bulls star's fifth visit to North Korea is purely to free the three USA citizens in custody in North Korea.

Pyongyang's attitude changed in May. The United States does not have a diplomatic mission in North Korea.

He later wrote to Kim Jong Un asking for Bae's release.

Anyone wanting to own a larger-than-life Kim will have to await the end of North Korea's nuclear program. In response, the USA has taken a tough tack, and recently began deploying the advanced anti-missile defense known as THAAD to South Korea.

"Tillerson said North Korea will be at the top of the agenda at high-level talks between the US and China next week". U.S. officials then urged those with the ability to persuade Pyongyang to ratchet up the pressure to get him released, said a source, who is familiar with the government's efforts.

But U.S. officials said Rodman's visit was purely coincidental.

"While the entire University of Virginia 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", said U.Va.'s president, Teresa Sullivan, in a statement Tuesday.

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