American Student Freed By North Korea Arrives Home

Bruno Cirelli
Giugno 20, 2017

The North Korean government told his parents that food poisoning was to blame.

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. The White House has responded at various times with tough talk and warnings that Washington's "strategic patience" with Pyongyang is now at an end.

Otto Warmbier, an American university student held prisoner in North Korea for 17 months and said by his family to be in a coma, has been medically evacuated from the reclusive country after a rare visit there from a high-level official from the United States.

The family said it was told by North Korean officials, through contacts with American envoys, that Warmbier fell ill from botulism sometime after his March 2016 trial and lapsed into a coma after taking a sleeping pill, the Washington Post reported.

- South Korean-born USA citizen Kim Dong Chul, who was sentenced in April 2016 to 10 years in prison with hard labor after being convicted of espionage.

Before his trial, Warmbier had said he tried to steal a propaganda banner as a trophy for an acquaintance who wanted to hang it in her church.

The U.S. government accuses North Korea of using such detainees as political pawns.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said, "It's clear that Pyongyang has committed a grave injustice against Otto and his family, and the news that he may be returning with a serious medical problem raises concerns about what happened to him in North Korean custody". He flew home Tuesday in a coma-like state, according to some media reports.

Warmbier, 22, a University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati, was on his way back to the United States, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement. "Take care of Otto", Trump is said to have instructed his top diplomat. The family of Otto Warmbier said he was in a coma and was on a Medivac flight home. "We get to see our son Otto tonight".

How harsh is prison in North Korea?

The U.S. announcement that came as former National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman was paying a return visit to Pyongyang. None of Rodman's previous missions to Pyongyang have achieved much. FILE - In this December 20, 2013, file photo, former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman, center, watches from courtside during a practice session for North Korean basketball players in Pyongyang, North Korea. It's safe to say it stands up half-a-decade later.

Mr. Rodman is a Hall of Fame professional basketball player who formed a personal relationship with the diminutive North Korean dictator Kim several years ago, traveling to North Korea to give basketball demonstrations. But State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters Rodman had nothing to do with Warmbier's release. "I've not spoken with Dennis Rodman".

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown said "North Korea's despicable actions in detaining and holding Otto were unacceptable and must be condemned".

That sense of relief is shared throughout this nation, which also wonders how long North Korea will be permitted to continue its nuclear designs and to foment risky global threats. President Teresa Sullivan said in a statement Tuesday. His release brings the number of US citizens known to be in detention in the hermetic communist dictatorship down to three.

Critics of Trump, meanwhile, also like to point to the eerie echoes of the Kim regime in the US president's own behavior.

Warmbier said before his trial that he tried to steal the propaganda poster as a trophy for an acquaintance, who offered him a used auto worth $13,200 in exchange for the item.

Here's his latest foray into North Korean diplomacy.

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