Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

USA citizen was detained in North Korea for pro-West material

USA citizen was detained in North Korea for pro-West material

The US Department of State announced that Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student, was released after 17 months of detention.

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

"Mr. Warmbier is en route to the United States, where he will be reunited with his family", he said.

Warmbier's parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, said he was in a coma and was flying home. In a statement confirming Warmbier's homecoming, his parents said they were told their son had been comatose since March 2016, the month he was convicted.

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

Details of what Rodman plans to do there on his current visit remain elusive.

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"Dennis Rodman had nothing to do with the release of Mr. Warmbier", said Heather Nauert, a State Department spokeswoman. Rodman had told reporters before arriving in Pyongyang that the issue of Americans detained by North Korea is "not my objective right now". "Take care of Otto", Trump is said to have instructed his top diplomat.

University President Teresa Sullivan said in a statement that the school is relieved to hear Warmbier was released, but is concerned about his condition.

America appeared to be on a collision course with China today after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned that the USA was considering imposing sanctions on countries that do business with North Korea.

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".

Washington and Pyongyang are negotiating for their release.

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

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The University of Virginia confirmed that the 22-year-old student is in a coma.

The U.S. government condemned the sentence and accused North Korea of using such American detainees as political pawns.

"During his time in our country, USA citizen Kim Sang Duk attempted to overthrow the state, a hostile crime". At the same time, his trips have also faced ridicule and criticism from some USA politicians and activists who view them as fodder for North Korean propaganda. Richardson has played a role in past negotiations with North Korea. Meshach Kanyion, pastor of the church in Wyoming, declined to comment Wednesday. Instead, he was apprehended on January 2, 2016 at the Pyongyang International Airport on charges of committing a "hostile act" against the state, as he was preparing to leave the country. Governments from around the world also looked down upon the North Korean court's decision.

Warmbier was sentenced in March 2016 after a televised tearful public confession to trying to steal a propaganda banner. The North Koreans agreed and he was flown out on Tuesday, the official said. The magazine of the university's alumni association describes the Z Society as a "semi-secret ring society" founded in 1892 that conducts philanthropy, puts on honorary dinners and grants academic awards.

Warmbier would have graduated from U.Va. last month had he not been detained. There, Yun learned about Warmbier's "condition", the White House official said.

Coincidentally (or not), Dennis Rodman is now in 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.

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Mr Tillerson told the Senate foreign relations committee yesterday that it was time for the U.S. to work with other nations to deny the North access to supplies such as oil, amid fears that the regime is making progress toward a ballistic missile that could hit America.

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