Senators condemn NK treatment of US student

"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", UVa's president, Teresa Sullivan, said in a written statement Tuesday.

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 Post reports that a senior administration official explained that Tillerson called President Donald Trump around 8:35 a.m. on Tuesday to tell him that Warmbier was on an airplane headed for the United States and is being accompanied by State Department officials.

The Warmbier family gave the following statement to CNN, stating that not even they learned about his more than yearlong coma until one week ago, and condemning North Korea's "pariah regime".

"Well, I'm pretty sure he's pretty much happy with the fact that I'm over here trying to accomplish something that we both need", Rodman said in Beijing when asked if Trump was aware of the trip.

Warmbier is being transported back via Japan, where State Department officials were slated to meet him for the journey back to Ohio.

He was in North Korea with a tour group and was arrested on January 2, 2016, while trying to board a plane back to the United States.

On March 16, two hours after USA envoy Bill Richardson met with two North Korean diplomats from the United Nations office to press for Warmbier's release, Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

Despite Warmbier's release, there are still three other USA citizens believed to be detained by the North Korean regime.

Warmbier's release comes as he has not been seen publicly since his arrest. The US has no diplomatic ties with North Korea, and often deals with the country by proxy through Swedish emissaries or China.

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".

North Korea regularly accuses Washington and Seoul of sending spies to overthrow its government to enable the USA -backed South Korean government to take control of the Korean Peninsula.

In March, the University of Virginia student, who is originally from Cincinnati, was sentenced to 15 years in prison and hard labour after a trial lasting just one hour.

The secretary said that out of "respect for the privacy of Mr. Warmbier and his family, we have no further comment on Mr. Warmbier". The Warmbiers said they were told their son has remained in a coma since then.

But on Tuesday, the already odd tale took some even stranger turns when it was reported that the Cincinnati native is on his way back to OH in a coma, one his parents have been told Warmbier has been in for almost his entire incarceration. 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.

North Korea has woefully inadequate medical care and it is not clear how North Korean doctors had been caring for Warmbier during more than a year in an unconscious state.

They are 62-year-old Kim Dong-chul, a Korean-American missionary; Korean-American professor Kim Sang-duk (or Tony Kim); and Kim Hak-song, who worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST).

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