Rodman's N. Korea trip off to uncharacteristic low-key start

Rodman's N. Korea trip off to uncharacteristic low-key start

Rodman's N. Korea trip off to uncharacteristic low-key start

A plane carrying Otto Warmbier (WORM'-bir) arrived around 10:20 p.m. Tuesday at an airport in Cincinnati where he was to be taken to a hospital. According to Warmbier's parents, their son was medically evacuated from North Korea in a coma, which he has reportedly been in for over a year after falling ill to botulism and then being given a sleeping pill.

According to the State Department, North Korea got urgently in touch with the United States at the United Nations on June 6 to say that Mr. Warmbier was in a coma and needed medical attention.

Hours after his arrival, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that North Korea had released an American student serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor for alleged anti-state acts.

Tillerson told USA senators at the start of a budget hearing that the State Department had no comment on Mr Warmbier's condition, "out of respect for him and his family".

But he noted that the State Department is continuing "to have discussions" with North Korea about the release of other three American citizens who are jailed there.

"Dennis Rodman had nothing to do with the release of Mr. Warmbier", said Heather Nauert, a State Department spokeswoman, adding that the government was "thankful" that he would soon be home in his parents' arms. "My Center for Global Engagement has worked on behalf of the Warmbier family with the North Korean government directly, including a visit late past year to advance negotiations for his release, as well as with both the Obama and Trump administrations".

Asked whether U.S. President Donald Trump knew his trip, Rodman said he is "pretty much sure that he (President Trump) is happy with the fact that I'm over here trying to accomplish something that we both need".

Otto Warmbier had been in North Korea for a brief time over New Year's on a group tour, while on his way to Hong Kong for a financial course he was to take as part of his undergraduate studies. He said: "We are in a stage where we are moving into this next effort of, 'Are we going to have to, in effect, start taking secondary sanctions because countries we have provided information to have not, or are unwilling, or don't have the ability to do that?".

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"We received a call from Cindy and Fred Warmbier early today to update us on Otto's condition".

In this undated photo published on September 7, 2013, on the homepage of North Korea's Rodong Sinmun newspaper, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, talks with former National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman during a dinner in North Korea.

Otto Warmbier, 23, a student at the University of Virginia, was arrested for stealing a propaganda poster as a tourist in North Korea in January last year and sentenced to 15 years' hard labour after a tearful confession. Chang also talks about N. Korea's missile capabilities and the timeline for their ability to strike the US with a nuclear weapon. "Arrangements were made for Warmbier to leave North Korea". Officials involved in negotiations to free Warmbier and another American citizen who is being detained were told they were being treated as prisoners of war.

Warmbier was not seen in public after his March 2016 sentencing. A North Korean foreign ministry official confirmed that Warmbier was released and left the country Tuesday morning. A medical team and aircraft were organized, and North Korea was informed that a delegation would travel there. An armed official at the airport was reported to have dragged Warmbier away. His family says he's in a coma.

Warmbier was supposed to graduate from the University of Virginia in May. He said Warmbier's sentence was "unnecessary and appalling".

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown said "North Korea's despicable actions in detaining and holding Otto were unacceptable and must be condemned".

The North has occasionally jailed U.S. citizens and released them only after visits by high-profile political figures, including former president Bill Clinton.

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