North Korea frees American student; parents say he's in coma

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches a basketball game between former U.S. NBA basketball players and North Korean players of the Hwaebul team of the DPRK with Dennis Rodman at Pyongyang Indoor Stadium

A North Korean official told a USA counterpart that Warmbier had contracted botulism and fell into the coma after taking a sleeping pill, CNN reports.

Charlotte and David Simons, who said they have been friends of the family for more than 30 years, came to watch his flight come in, too.

Sen. Rob Portman of OH said in a statement that Tillerson had confirmed to him Warmbier's release.

"We want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime" in North Korea, Warmbier's parents said.

Three other American citizens are being detained in North Korea, at a time when Kim Jong Un has been firing missiles and threatening to strike the United States.

He was detained at the airport as he was leaving the country with a tour group in January 2016.

Warmbier is now on his way home to OH, with a State Department representative, to be reunited with his family.

"We're absolutely thrilled. There are many happy people tonight in Wyoming", Wyoming City Council member Jenni McCauley said. President Trump then promptly put into motion the process enabling Warmbier's safe return to his family in Ohio.

Our sympathies go out to Otto Warmbier and his family. He said that over the past 18 months, Warmbier's family has "had to endure more than any family should have to bear".

A statement issued in NY by a Rodman publicist said the former National Basketball Association player is in the rare position of being friends with the leaders of both North Korea and the United States.

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President Moon Jae-in and his US counterpart Donald Trump will hold their first face-to-face talks since they both took office in Washington on June 29-30 (local time). According to the New York Times, American officials suspect that Warmbier's condition could be the result of brutality he may have suffered at the hands of prison guards, given that the North Korean regime has a history of mistreating prisoners.

His entourage includes Joseph Terwilliger, a professor who has accompanied Rodman on previous trips to North Korea.

Warmbier's parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, said they were told he has been in a coma since his trial, when he was last seen in public, and they had learned of this only one week ago. Washington and Pyongyang are negotiating for their release.

Rodman had nothing to do with his release, the source added.

Asked whether the U.S. wanted to see an Iran-style global embargo to deny exports of petroleum and other products to North Korea, Mr Tillerson said that this would only work if Russian Federation and China co-operated. In April and May, North Korea detained two other Korean-Americans, both of them affiliated with the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, a private institution run by Korean-American Christians. The other is a businessman named Kim Dong Chul. At the same time, we are saddened to learn that he is in a coma and we hope that he will soon be returned to full health'.

Tillerson indicated on Tuesday that Washington is looking for new ways to increase pressure on Pyongyang, telling senators that the White House is considering whether to impose "secondary sanctions" on third countries that do business with North Korea.

What, if anything, substantive Rodman is doing in North Korea remains unclear. Experts say each launch gets the country closer to its stated goal of developing a nuclear-armed weapon capable of reaching the United States.

That does not mean that there is no role for Mr. Rodman to play in helping to improve communications between his friend Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump.

When quizzed by reporters in Beijing while en route to the North, Rodman said that issue of Americans detained by Pyongyang was "not my objective right now". However, the airline can not fly to the European Union, which has banned it on safety grounds, and the United States prevents citizens from legally conducting business with the carrier. It is common for sections of tourist hotels to be reserved for North Korean staff and off-limits to foreigners.

When they spoke to CNN on May 3, they said they had not seen or heard from Otto since his supposed confession.

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