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US college student released by North Korea arrives in Ohio
June 24 2017, 05:20 | Irvin Gilbert
Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman arrives at Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang North Korea
An American college student who was released from a North Korean prison has been taken to an OH hospital for treatment.
An American college student who has been in North Korean custody for a year and a half arrived in Cincinnati on Tuesday night on a medical evacuation flight. His family said they found out last week that the 22-year-old has been in a coma since shortly after his trial in March last year for alleged anti-state acts. At 10:42 p.m., the ambulances drove away. He reportedly was detained for trying to remove a propaganda banner from his hotel.
"Dennis Rodman had nothing to do with the release of Mr. Warmbier", Heather Nauert, a State Department spokeswoman, was quoted as saying by the Post, adding that the USA government was "thankful" he would soon be home in his parents' arms. Tillerson informed President Trump of Warmbier's condition and helped organize a medical team to travel with Yun to North Korea.
During his 18-month incarceration, the Warmbiers heard from Otto only once, through a letter on March 2, 2016.
Rodman has received the red-carpet treatment on four past trips since 2013, which have accomplished little in terms of diplomacy and served mainly to create publicity for the former athlete. He was freed Tuesday.
"Sadly, he is in a coma and we have been told he has been in that condition since March of 2016", the parents said in a statement.
"Dennis Rodman had nothing to do with the release of Mr. Warmbier", said Heather Nauert, a State Department spokeswoman. His parents say he's in a coma.
The Warmbiers have been pressing - first behind the scenes and then more publicly - for their son's release. They say North Koreans told US authorities that their son contracted botulism and never awoke after he was given a sleeping pill.
The US has in the past accused North Korea of detaining its citizens to use them as pawns in negotiations over its nuclear weapons programme.
Otto Warmbier speaks at a news conference in North Korea, in 2016. His family says he is in a coma. 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.
Warmbier visited North Korea on an "adventure tour" organized by a China-based company specializing in budget trips to the reclusive country. Warmbier was evacuated Tuesday.
Americans are regarded as enemies in North Korea because the two countries never signed a peace treaty to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War.
Otto's parents, Fred and Cindy, told friends they had no idea how their son was, or if he was dead or alive.
Moon, a center-left politician who was sworn in last month after a landslide election win, wants to engage with the North to bring it to the negotiating table, rather than continuing the hardline stance taken by his ousted predecessor Park Geun-Hye.
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.
Warmbier said he accepted the offer because his family was "suffering from very severe financial difficulties".
"For North Korea to imprison Otto with no notification or consular access for more than a year is the utmost example of its complete failure to recognize fundamental human rights and dignity".