Family says U.S. college student released by North Korea is in coma


"We learned of this only one week ago", said Fred and Cindy Warmbier in a statement.

"The UVa family will continue to keep the Warmbiers in our thoughts and prayers as Otto returns to the United States and his home, where he will receive the care and support of those who love him".

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor after a tearful one-hour trial.

She tells reporters, "we are grateful and thankful" for Warmbier's release, but says it is "too soon" to talk about dialogue between the USA and North Korea. 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.

Joseph Yun, the US special representative to North Korea, had persuaded his boss, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, to bless the rare, face-to-face dialogue with senior North Korean Foreign Ministry officials after assuring him that the agenda would focus on the status of four American citizens imprisoned by the Kim regime, according to people familiar with the process.

"At the direction of the president, the Department of State has secured the release of Otto Warmbier from North Korea", Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said. After two doctors visited Warmbier, a US official demanded his release on humanitarian grounds, the State Department said, and he was evacuated Tuesday.

Warmbier was serving a 15-year sentence for "anti-state" activities, which amounted to little more than attempting to steal a poster from a hotel. He was medically evacuated from the country on June 13, 2017.

"On camera, Warmbier said he stole the propaganda poster on behalf of a member of the Friendship United Methodist Church in Wyoming, Ohio, who wanted it 'as a trophy.' In exchange, he would receive a used auto worth $10,000". In response, the USA has taken a tough tack, and recently began deploying the advanced anti-missile defense known as THAAD to South Korea. President Trump directs Secretary Tillerson to take all appropriate measures to secure the release of American hostages in North Korea. "Out of respect for the privacy of Mr. Warmbier and his family, we have no further comment on Mr. Warmbier".

OTTO WARMBIER, Released North Korean Prison: I have made the worst mistake of my life. Fifield says she was told Rodman's visit had nothing to with the freeing of Warmbier.

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

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Rodman said the issue of several Americans currently detained by North Korea is "not my goal right now".

The White House says a US envoy met with North Korean foreign ministry representatives in Norway last month as part of efforts to win freedom for Americans held by Pyongyang.

The news of Warmbier's release comes the same day as basketball star Dennis Rodman arrived in Pyongyang for an expected four-night visit.

"Otto's detainment and sentence was unnecessary and appalling, and North Korea should be universally condemned for its abhorrent behavior".

Warmbier was flown first to an American military medical facility in Japan, then flown on to Cincinnati, near his family's home.

"FILE â€" In this February 29, 2016 file photo, American student Otto Warmbier speaks to reporters in Pyongyang, North Korea. Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Cleveland described North Korea's actions as "despicable".

The 22-year-old Warmbier has served just over a year of his 15-year sentence - allegedly for taking down a sign of the late dictator Kim Jong Il while Warmbier was in the country with a tour group.

They say that Otto Warmbier is on a Medivac flight on his way home.

In a tearful statement before his trial, Warmbier told a gathering of reporters in Pyongyang he was offered a used vehicle worth $10,000 if he could get a propaganda banner and was also told that if he was detained and didn't return, $200,000 would be paid to his mother in the form of a charitable donation.