North Korea freed, sentenced to prison, American student

Paola Ditto
Giugno 20, 2017

An American college student imprisoned by North Korea and in a coma for more than a year was freed Tuesday and arrived last night in his home state of Ohio.

The release of Otto Warmbier came during a visit to North Korea by former National Basketball Association star Dennis Rodman, one of few people to have met both North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.

After a senior State Department official flew to Pyongyang to demand Warmbier's release on humanitarian grounds, he was flown out in a medical evacuation. Rodman had told reporters before arriving in Pyongyang that the issue of Americans detained by North Korea is "not my objective right now". However, nothing should be read into this coincidence, given the timeline of theTrump administration's own prior initiatives leading to the release.

Rodman said the issue of several Americans currently detained by North Korea is "not my objective right now".

Such direct consultations between the two governments are rare.

Coincidentally (or not), Dennis Rodman is now in North Korea. In addition to Warmbier, three other USA nationals remain in North Korean custody on various allegations of espionage. Three Americans remain in custody.

A plane carrying Warmbier arrived late Tuesday at an airport in Cincinnati.

He was arrested in January last year for allegedly stealing a political propaganda sign from a hotel in North Korea and was later sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

Donald Trump's spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said securing Mr Warmbier's release "was a big priority" for the president, who worked "very closely" with the.

She says it's an "extremely sad" situation that student Otto Warmbier (WORM'-bir) is in a coma.

"Sadly, he is in a coma and we have been told he has been in that condition since March of 2016", the parents said in a statement.

The State Department announced Warmbier's release earlier Tuesday but gave no details on his condition.

"We want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalised and terrorised by the pariah regime", his parents, Fred and Cindy, said.

"We thank you for the opportunity and blessing you've given us to serve your agenda and the American people", said Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who reports suggest may be at risk of losing his job amid internal palace squabbles. The official referred to them as "hostages". Swedish diplomats, representing USA interests, were denied consular access to him.

As the Americans continued to push to see all four, North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations urgently requested a meeting with Yun in NY, according to Trump administration officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity about the secret arrangements.

It is not immediately possible to determine whether Mr. Warmbier's condition is due to events as described by the North Korean government. Washington and Pyongyang are negotiating for their release. He was evacuated on Tuesday.

In Seoul, South Korea, U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon said "we pray for him and we pray for his family".

This is the first time the Swedish diplomats were allowed to visit with Warmbier.

His four past trips in 2013 and 2014 generated a storm of publicity, most of it unfavorable, and did little in terms of diplomacy.

Trump spoke on Fox News in 2013 about Rodman and North Korea, a year in which Rodman also appeared on Trump's Celebrity Apprentice show.

President Trump has been soft-pedalling his public stance on China in the hope that Beijing will force Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear programme. "Arrangements were made for Warmbier to leave North Korea".

A White House official says the May meeting in Oslo was attended by Joseph Yun, the US envoy to North Korea. A 2009 visit by former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, secured the freedom of American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling.

Tony Kim, also known by his Korean name Kim Sang Duk, was also a teacher at PUST. He was accused of committing unspecified criminal acts meant to overthrow the government. He was sentenced to 15 years hard labor following a brief one hour trial and, despite pleas from American State Department officials that his sentence was "unduly harsh".

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