US college student released by North Korea home, but in coma

Monday, 19 Jun, 2017

He reportedly had botulism, was given a sleeping pill and never woke up since.

The North has occasionally jailed United States citizens and released them only after visits by high-profile political figures, including former president Bill Clinton. And how does the Trump administration respond? Joseph Yun, the US special envoy on North Korea, met with North Korean officials in Oslo, Norway, in May and reached an agreement for Swedish diplomats to visit Warmbier.

Rodman's trip to North Korea is at least his fifth.

A member of the congregation, Jenni McCauley said: 'Our entire Wyoming community is thrilled that Otto is finally being returned to the USA and to his family. Things took a turn for the worse while he was on a trip to North Korea. Obviously it's weird that he would contract it just after he was sentenced to fifteen years hard labour by the North Korean state, but there's not a whole lot else to go off right now. "We wish him well, but we have issued travel warnings to Americans and suggested they not travel to North Korea for their own safety", U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon told reporters after discussing the North Korean missile threat and other issues with Japanese counterparts. He was sentenced to 15 years hard labor, and he had not been seen or heard from since he appeared in a dramatic confession apologizing for "the biggest mistake" of his life. The U.S. does not have diplomatic relations with the reclusive country and works through Sweden to deal with North Korean officials.

In the 1990s he visited at President Clinton's request to secure the release of the pilot of a USA helicopter downed after unintentionally straying across the DMZ during a routine training mission (a second pilot was killed); and to bring home an American man accused of espionage after swimming across a river on the North Korea-China border. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported his arrest for "hostile acts" toward the state the following day, but offered no details about his age, occupation or alleged crime.

President Trump has been soft-pedalling his public stance on China in the hope that Beijing will force Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear programme. A United Nations commission documented in 2014 that "the use of torture is an established feature of the interrogation process" in North Korea.

His parents told CNN in early May that they had had no contact with their son for more than a year.

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

Rodman routinely distances himself from political events in North Korea. The official referred to them as "hostages". The North Korean government told his parents that food poisoning was to blame. "American and medical officials would get out".

Before his trial, Warmbier had said he tried to steal a propaganda banner as a trophy for an acquaintance who wanted to hang it in her church.

Yun arrived in Pyongyang early Monday with two US physicians.

But the important thing in the immediate future is Mr. Warmbier's health. On Tuesday, the White House announced that recently elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in would visit Washington at the end of the month.

Tillerson said the State Department is still working on the release of the three other US citizens detained in North Korea.

Warmbier's parents were told their son was given a sleeping pill soon after his trial in March previous year and never woke.

He was expected to arrive in North Korea later on Tuesday for a trip that the State Department said was not an official US visit, CNN reported on Monday. Pyongyang assented, and preparations were made to bring Warmbier home. "We want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime", Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in their statement.

Warmbier would have graduated in May.

Tillerson says the State Department secured Warmbier's release at President Donald Trump's direction. 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. He worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.