North Korea frees US college student; family says he's in coma

Frederick Owens
June 14, 2017

"Otto has been in a coma for over a year now and urgently needs proper medical care in the United States", said Bill Richardson, a veteran former diplomat and politician who has played a role in past negotiations with North Korea, said after speaking to Warmbier's parents. Warmbier arrived in OH after be.

The parents of the 22-year old American college student freed by North Korea say he is in a coma. Today, University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan released a statement saying that while the school's "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".

"At the direction of the President, the Department of State has secured the release of Otto Warmbier from North Korea".

CINCINNATI (AP) - An American college student who was released from a North Korean prison is finally home but in a coma and undergoing treatment at an OH hospital where he was taken shortly after arriving on USA soil.

Warmbier also said he had been encouraged by the university's "Z Society", which he said he was trying to join. The report said he had been a coma for more than a year, since shortly after his last public appearance at his trial in Pyongyang in March 2016.

American college student Otto Warmbier, who was released after more than 17 months in detention in North Korea, is expected to arrive at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center late Tuesday evening, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Rodman said in advance he had no plans to discuss the detained Americans, and it was unclear if his presence had anything to do with Warmbier's release.

"Everybody feels a sense of relief that he is coming back to the United States", resident Amy Mayer said before he arrived.

Warmbier said he accepted the offer because his family was "suffering from very severe financial difficulties".

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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. On this trip, he has already been roundly criticized by some for visiting during a time of high tensions between the US and North Korea over its weapons programs and recent missile launches. One month later, he was sentenced to prison. Three Americans remain in custody. The US Department of State's special representative for North Korea Joseph Yun and several doctors traveled to Pyongyang to escort Warmbier out of the country. He was later charged with "hostile acts against the state" and was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in March.

In March 2016, North Korea's highest court sentenced Warmbier to 15 years in prison with hard labor for subversion as he tearfully confessed that he had tried to steal a propaganda banner.

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

"We are so grateful that he will finally be with people who love him".

Officials involved in securing Warmbier's release told The Post that it had nothing to do with Rodman's trip to Pyongyang, calling it a "bizarre coincidence" that might have been a deliberate ploy from North Korea to distract from Warmbier's condition. The official referred to them as "hostages". In video taken at the time of the trial, Mr. Warmbier appeared dazed and seemingly had to be carried by North Korean soldiers. "This is the North Korean version of events".

Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman is greeted by North Korea's Sports Ministry Vice Minister Son Kwang Ho, right.

Department of State spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters Rodman had nothing to do with Warmbier's release. Soon after, Rodman returned in September 2013.

The trip marks Rodman's fifth to North Korea. He is looking to increase economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea, with help from China but has said he's open to meeting Kim.

Rodman, 56, told CNN he was hoping to do "something that's pretty positive" as he boarded a plane to North Korea from Beijing.

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