North Korean prisoner Otto Warmbier returns to the USA

Frederick Owens
June 17, 2017

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a former USA ambassador to the United Nations, said there should be an investigation into what happened to Warmbier leading to this "tragic situation".

Two women waiting outside the airport fence held signs: "WELCOME HOME OTTO" and "PRAYERS FOR OTTO", and said they were there to support his family. He is on Medivac flight on his way home.

Warmbier is from the Cincinnati suburb Wyoming. Rodman has travelled to the isolated nation four times previously and is one of few people to have met both North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.

A Department of State spokeswoman said that out of respect for the privacy of Warmbier's family, "we have no further comment". His parents say he's in a coma.

It's not clear if Warmbier's release during Rodman's visit was purely coincidental. Only this month did US officials learn that Warmbier was in a coma. Such meetings are unusual because the two governments do not have diplomatic relations.

United Nations sanctions limit North Korea's diplomats overseas - at the country's Berlin embassy, for example - to only one bank account each. His family says he is in a coma.

Otto Warmbier arrived in North Korea in December 2015 as part of a tour group. He was evacuated on Tuesday. On the same trip, he suggested an American missionary was at fault for his own imprisonment in North Korea, remarks for which he later apologized.

(AP Photo/John Minchillo). A pair hugs and cries outside the plane carrying Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student who was imprisoned in North Korea in March 2016, before he is transferred from a transport aircraft to.

Fred Warmbier told Fox News' Tucker Carlson on Wednesday from his OH home that his son, Otto, "is not in great shape right now".

Warmbier was to have graduated last month had he not been detained.

"My objective is to go over there and try to see if I can keep bringing sports to North Korea", he said.

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Warmbier, 22, returned to the United States in a coma. But efforts to persuade North Korea to release the men now held had not been successful until Warmbier's release Tuesday.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that Warmbier had been freed.

"This system imposes unduly harsh sentences for actions that would not be considered crimes in the United States and threatens USA citizen detainees with being treated in accordance with 'wartime law of the DPRK'".

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

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown said "North Korea's despicable actions in detaining and holding Otto were unacceptable and must be condemned". The Warmbiers said they were told their son had remained in a coma since then. He had been serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor for alleged anti-state acts.

The family said it was told by North Korean officials, through contacts with American envoys, that Warmbier fell ill from botulism sometime after his March 2016 trial and lapsed into a coma after taking a sleeping pill, the Washington Post reported.

Flamboyant former National Basketball Association star Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea Tuesday, June 13 after saying he wants to "open the door" to the regime and claiming that US President Donald Trump would be pleased with his mission.

The official, who was not authorized to speak on the record about the sequence of events and requested anonymity, said that after Tillerson consulted with Trump, Yun was dispatched to North Korea.

The U.S. government accuses North Korea of using such detainees as political pawns.

This combination of file photos shows former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman in Pyongyang, North Korea on December 20, 2013, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang on April 15, 2017.

He is now being treated at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

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