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U.S. college student released by North Korea arrives in Ohio

20 June 2017, 05:39 | Darnell Patrick

U.S. college student released by North Korea arrives in Ohio

A person believed to be Otto Warmbier is transferred from a medical transport airplane to an awaiting ambulance

Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old college student detained and imprisoned in North Korea, is carried off of an airplane at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati on Tuesday. He is in a coma for unexplained reasons.

North Korea released another hostage, Otto Warmbier, after 17 months of captivity on Tuesday.

A Wyoming man held prisoner in North Korea for over a year is returning to OH tonight, but the news isn't all happy.

Warmiber, a third-year commerce and economics student at the University of Virginia, was put on trial for "hostile acts against the state" after being accused of trying to steal a propaganda poster from his hotel room during a visit to the Stalinist-ruled country early last year. He'd been in custody since January 2016 and was sentenced in March 2016 in a one-hour trial.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said his agency had "secured" the 22-year-old's release in talks with North Korea and is pushing for three more Americans to be freed.

"Well, I'm pretty sure he's pretty much happy with the fact that I'm over here trying to accomplish something that we both need", Rodman said. "We want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime in North Korea".

He had not been seen in public since, and Swedish diplomats, representing US interests, had been denied consular access to him.

While traveling in Tokyo, Thomas Shannon Jr., the US undersecretary of state for political affairs, said Rodman was not acting in any official capacity.

It is the first time that the US administration has confirmed the dispatch of a ranking official to North Korea since President Donald Trump took office in January.

Otto Warmbier speaks at a news conference in North Korea in 2016
KCNA REUTERS Otto Warmbier speaks at a news conference in North Korea in 2016

Yun was under orders, which the official said came directly from Trump, to demand to see Warmbier immediately, and, "if he was in bad shape", to demand his immediate release and evacuation on the plane's return flight to the United States. "This is wrong", David Lee, one of the men who said he studied with Kim, told CNN.

A senior Trump administration official told Fox News Rodman was going to the North "as a private citizen". Sadly, he is in a coma and we have been told that he has been in that condition since March of 2016.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family as they continue to battle for Otto's life".

In the past, North Korea has held out until senior US officials or statesmen came to personally bail out detainees, all the way up to former President Bill Clinton, whose visit in 2009 secured the freedom of American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, confirmed the release but did not comment on Warmbier's health. Critics of engagement with North Korea say Rodman's visits legitimize the country's ruling regime.

Bill Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico, tells the New York Times that Otto Warmbier, 23, has been in a coma for over a year and had to be medically evacuated.

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has been one of the United States' most unlikely links to North Korea, traveling repeatedly to the authoritarian state and gaining rare access to its leadership.

The State Department advises "strongly" against visits by USA citizens to North Korea, noting that at least 16 Americans have been detained there over the last decade.

Lu said he has "consistently" welcomed and supported greater dialogue and contact between North Korea and the US - as countries directly involved in the Korean Peninsula's nuclear issue - to increase mutual understanding and trust. Kim is a naturalized USA citizen and resident of Fairfax, Va., who ran a trade and hotel services firm in the special administrative zone between China and the DPRK.

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