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Family says US college student released by NKorea is in coma

Family says US college student released by NKorea is in coma

The announcement on Otto Warmbier's release came as former National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman was paying a return visit to Pyongyang.

The State Department denied any connection between Warmbier's release and Rodman's visit, which President Donald Trump's administration said it did not authorise.

Tillerson said the State Department is continuing to discuss three other detained Americans with North Korea.

Instead, the administration credited the release to its diplomatic intervention.

He was met by North Korean Vice Minister of Sports Son Kwang Ho.

There are three other Americans now being held in North Korea.

While North Korea's move to free Warmbier could potentially provide an opening for talks on security issues, the prospects still appear bleak.

Since taking office in January, U.S. President Donald Trump has faced growing tensions with North Korea, which has conducted a series of ballistic missile tests in defiance of U.S. and global sanctions.

The detention of Americans, often sentenced to draconian prison sentences for seemingly small offenses in the totalitarian nation, has compounded tensions between Washington and Pyongyang. But the nation still has three more Americans in its jails.

Mr Warmbier was supposed to graduate from the university in May.

Previous year I wrote about the sad situation college student Otto Warmbier found himself in after trying to take a political banner hanging in his hotel in North Korea.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also confirmed Warmbier's release in a statement.

Warmbier's family said in a statement that he is in a coma and on his way home.

Warmbier's family said they were told by North Korean officials, through contacts with American envoys, that Warmbier fell ill from botulism some time after his March 2016 trial and lapsed into a coma after taking a sleeping pill, the Washington Post reported. US officials did not confirm those details. Tillerson said the department would have no further comment on Warmbier and his condition, citing privacy concerns. His current visit has already been roundly criticized by some for its timing, during high tensions between the USA and North Korea over its weapons programs and recent missile launches. A person who answered the phone at Warmbier's family's OH residence said: "No comment, thank you" and hung up.

A State Department spokesman told the Associated Press they were aware of Rodman's visit, but that he was not in North Korea in any "official capacity". The official referred to them as "hostages".

The U.S. government condemned the sentence and accused North Korea of using such American detainees as political pawns. North Korea accuses Washington and South Korea of sending spies to overthrow its government. Yun then met last week with the North Korean ambassador at the U.N.in NY, where Yun learned about Warmbier's condition. And Yun was dispatched to North Korea and visited Warmbier with two doctors on Monday, and demanded his release. Warmbier was evacuated Tuesday.

Two Ohio senators are denouncing North Korea after a resident of their state was said to be in a coma after being released from a prison in that country.

It was not immediately clear if Rodman's visit to North Korea was purely coincidental with Warmbier's release.

His four past trips in 2013 and 2014 generated a storm of publicity, most of it unfavorable, and did little in terms of diplomacy. It is, however, his first trip since Trump, his former "Celebrity Apprentice" boss, became president.

Nearly immediately on taking office in January, Trump and his team - having been briefed by outgoing leader Barack Obama - declared the North's attempts to build, test and arm a nuclear-capable ballistic missile to be Washington's biggest threat.

Warmbier was on a New Year's Eve tour in North Korea, en route to Hong Kong, where he was to do a January study-abroad trip. A 2009 visit by former President Bill Clinton secured the freedom of American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling. Warmbier was given a show trial at which he begged forgiveness for the crime of removing the banner which, like everything in North Korea, was promoting state communism.

- Kim Hak Song, who was detained in early May to be investigated for committing unspecified hostile acts, North Korea has said. He was accused of committing unspecified criminal acts meant to overthrow the government.


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