American student Otto Warmbier released from North Korea, reportedly in a coma

Alvin Kelly
June 14, 2017

It is common for sections of tourist hotels to be reserved for North Korean staff and off-limits to foreigners.

Dennis Rodman, a personal friend of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, flew to North Korea Tuesday afternoon for the first time since 2014. Such meetings are unusual because the two governments do not have diplomatic relations.

OTTO WARMBIER, Released North Korean Prison: I have made the worst mistake of my life. He has been roundly criticized for visiting during a time of high tensions between the US and North Korea over its weapons programs.

Americans have been sentenced to years in North Korean prisons for such seemingly minor offenses as stealing a political banner and likely could not expect leniency if the country's drug laws were violated.

Tillerson said the State Department secured Warmbier's release at the direction of President Donald Trump. He is now en route to OH where he will be reunited with his family, the State Department said.

Warmbier's father Fred Warmbier told the Washington Post that "our son is coming home".

Kim Jong-un returned United States prisoner Otto Warmbier in a coma and intelligence chiefs believe he could have experienced the harsh regime's brutality.

Aldi and its European rival, Lidl, which opens its first USA store this week, are hoping to change the way people shop with their smaller stores filled mostly with house brands that tend to cost less. "In no uncertain terms North Korea must explain the causes of his coma", veteran former diplomat Bill Richardson said in a statement after speaking to Warmbier's parents.

"We want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime in North Korean".

They also said they are grateful he "will finally be with people who love him".

A State Department spokesman told the Associated Press they were aware of Rodman's visit, but that he was not in North Korea in any "official capacity". The official referred to them as "hostages".

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There was no movement on North Korea's part until a meeting took place in Oslo, Norway last month between the U.S. State Department special representative for North Korea policy and high-level representatives from the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs that opened the door to Swedish visits with the detainees.

Washington has no trade links with North Korea, and has been considering sanctioning companies from third countries who deal with the secretive regime of Kim Jong-un in violation of United Nations resolutions.

Following the May meeting in Oslo, North Korea urgently requested another meeting, which took place last week between the USA envoy on North Korea, Joseph Yun, and the North's ambassador at the NY.

One of Warmbier's roommates at U-Va., Emmett Saulnier, said he got a call Tuesday morning from Fred Warmbier to inform him of the release.

The witness also said North Korea authorities did not use force against him, but were tough. He was evacuated on Tuesday.

A second senior State Department official said the U.S. has not yet accepted the North Korean version of events in terms of the timing and cause of how Warmbier fell into a coma.

It's unclear if Warmbier's release during Rodman's visit was purely coincidental.

Rodman spoke to reporters at the Beijing International Airport before leaving for Pyongyang.

The Trump administration has sought to increase pressure on North Korea over its nuclear and missile activities.

Rodman traveled to North Korea in 2013, where he organized a pickup basketball game that included other former National Basketball Association stars, and he sang Happy Birthday to Kim.

"We continue our discussions with the North Korean regime regarding the release of the three other American citizens that have been detained", Tillerson said.

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