North Korea releases US citizen Otto Warmbier

He returns to the USA as questions swirl about his health and what happened to him while he was detained by the North Korean government.

The parents were also quoted as saying that North Korean officials informed them via USA envoys that Warmbier fell ill from botulism sometime after his trial in March previous year and fell into a coma after taking a sleeping pill. North Korea told a U.S. official that Warmbier slipped into the coma after taking a sleeping pill when he contracted botulism, a senior State Department official told CNN. Joseph Yun, the State Department's special representative for North Korea policy, traveled to Pyongyang on a military medical plane, accompanied by doctors, to bring Warmbier out. "He is on Medivac flight on his way home".

"In no uncertain terms North Korea must explain the causes of his coma", Richardson, whose Center for Global Engagement had directly sought Warmbier's release with the North Korean government, said in a statement.

Republican Sen. Rob Portman of OH said in a statement that Tillerson had confirmed to him Warmbier's release.

In April and May, North Korea detained two other Korean Americans, both of them affiliated with the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, a private institution run by Korean American Christians.

Tillerson called President Trump at 8:35 a.m. Tuesday to inform him that Warmbier was on an airplane en route to the United States, according to a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the details. Swedish diplomats, who represent US interests in North Korea because the United States has no diplomatic relations with the country, were denied access to him.

Warmbier was a University of Virginia student when he made a decision to go to North Korea with a tour group.

That was used as evidence in his hour-long trial, during which North Korea accused him of committing "hostile acts" against the regime at the urging of a purported member of a church in his home state of OH, a secretive university organization and the Central Intelligence Agency.

Otto Warmbier, 22, was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labour in March 2016 after admitting he tried to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel he was staying at. It was the last time he was seen publicly. At the meeting, North Korea agreed that Swedish diplomats could visit all four American detainees. Yun then met last week with the North Korean ambassador at the U.N.in NY, where Yun learned about Warmbier's condition.

In that meeting about a week ago, Yun was told that Warmbier had contracted botulism a year ago and went into a coma after taking a sleeping pill. Warmbier's parents said in a statement Tuesday that he had been freed by the Communist state but had to be medically evacuated because he was in a coma.

And then, he begged the North Koreans to forgive him.

Tillerson said the State Department is continuing "to have discussions" with North Korea about the release of other three American citizens imprisoned there. The third is a businessman named Kim Dong Chul.

"At the direction of the President, the Department of State has secured the release of Otto Warmbier from North Korea", Tillerson said in a statement. The US does not have a diplomatic mission in North Korea. But the development is sure to significantly deteriorate the already bad relations between Washington and Pyongyang.

This is Rodman's fifth public visit to North Korea.

Since taking office in January, U.S. President Donald Trump has faced growing tensions with North Korea, which has conducted a series of ballistic missile tests in defiance of U.S. and global sanctions.

Republican Senator Rob Portman says North Korea should be "universally condemned for its abhorrent behaviour". "Otto should have been released from the start".

Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., meanwhile, said he was "heartened to see the reuniting of the Warmbier family, despite the tragic circumstances". "Over the last 18 months, they have had to endure more than any family should have to bear".

Warmbier's release came after flamboyant former National Basketball Association star Dennis Rodman arrived in Pyongyang, having told journalists that US President Donald Trump would be happy with a trip that was "trying to accomplish something that we both need".

A White House official said Trump had instructed Tillerson to take all appropriate measures to secure the release of Americans held in North Korea.

When asked if he would bring up the cases of Warmbier and three other Americans detained in North Korea, Rodman told reporters, "that's not my goal right now".

Warmbier also said he had been encouraged by the university's "Z Society", which he said he was trying to join.

The North Korean court held that Warmbier had committed a crime "pursuant to the USA government's hostile policy toward (the North), in a bid to impair the unity of its people after entering it as a tourist".

"I wish that the United States administration never manipulate people like myself in the future to commit crimes against foreign countries". Fowle left a Bible in a local club hoping a North Korean would find it, which is considered a criminal offense in North Korea.

"Since March 2, no one has seen or heard from Otto". He said Warmbier's sentence was "unnecessary and appalling".

Despite the increasingly hostile US-North Korean relationship, the Warmbiers said they were encouraged by US President Donald Trump's willingness to improve relations with North Korea.

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