Saturday, 23 February, 2019

North Korea releases American student after State Department visit

People believed to be family members embrace next to the medical transport plane carrying Otto Warmbier before he was transferred to an awaiting ambulance at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati Ohio US North Korea releases American student after State Department visit
Melinda Barton | 29 June, 2017, 09:07

Hours after Rodman arrived in the capital, North Korea released 22-year-old United States student Otto Warmbier from a 15-year sentence of hard labour.

Secretary of State Tillerson said on June 13, 2017, that North Korea released the jailed USA university student.

They say North Koreans told USA authorities that their son contracted botulism and never awoke after he was given a sleeping pill.

Out of respect for the privacy of Mr. Warmbier and his family, we have no further comment on Mr. Warmbier.

The American college student (at University of Virginia) was first detained in January 2016 at an airport in Pyongyang and was accused of trying to steal a banner from his hotel - considered a "hostile act' against the North Korean government".

He was detained at the airport as he was leaving the country with a tour group in January 2016.

U.S Ben Portman, who represent Otto home state of OH, said that "Otto's detainment and sentenced was unnecessary and appalling, and North Korea should be universally condemned for his abhorrent behavior".

When it comes to the nation of North Korea, Dennis "The Worm" Rodman, the eccentric National Basketball Association all-time great, can not be easily ignored. Shortly before sentencing, was held a press-conference at which Warmbir, not hiding tears, asked forgiveness of the North Korean people, calling the attempt to steal the poster "the most bad mistake in life". 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.

At least three other American citizens remain jailed in North Korea.

In a statement, they said: "We want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalised and terrorised by the pariah regime".

If it were, there might be pressure on President Trump to take action against Kim Jong-un's regime, he says.

The man was loaded into an ambulance bound for the University of Cincinnati Medical Centre, where a hospital spokeswoman said he would receive treatment.

The release of Warmbier, 18 months into a 15-year sentence, came as US President Donald Trump invited South Korea's new leader Moon Jae-In to Washington for talks on the escalating standoff over the North's nuclear program.

Warmbier's parents confirmed their son's condition.

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

ANNA FIFIELD: Once Otto Warmbier's condition was known, I'm told that the president did become involved, that he was informed, that he personally gave the order to do everything that they could to get Otto Warmbier out.

However a State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said Tuesday: "Dennis Rodman did not have anything to do with the release of Otto Warmbier". Washington's special envoy met with Warmbier's doctors on Monday and demanded his release on humanitarian grounds.

Sullivan says the university community has Warmbier's family in its thoughts and prayers as he returns home.

But deplaning in North Korea wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with made it clear that his earlier "basketball diplomacy" ventures with North Korea have now morphed into what some internet wags described as "weed diplomacy".

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

American Kenneth Bae credits Rodman's unconventional relationship with DPRK leader Kim Jong Un for helping pave the way for his November 2014 release from his own 15-year prison sentence there. Two of them - Kim Hak Song and Kim Sang Duk - are teachers of Korean origin who worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, and the third is a South Korea-born American named Kim Dong-chul.