Published: Thu, June 15, 2017
U.S. | By Vera Richards

USA college student released by North Korea home, but in coma

USA college student released by North Korea home, but in coma

Warmbier was detained at Pyongyang airport while on his way home to the USA in January 2016. However, nothing should be read into this coincidence, given the timeline of theTrump administration's own prior initiatives leading to the release. It said its special envoy on North Korean policy met with North Korean foreign ministry representatives in Norway last month.

Rodman, one of the few people to know both of the nuclear-armed leaders, sported a black T-shirt advertising a cybercurrency used to buy and sell marijuana as he talked to reporters briefly before boarding his flight from Beijing to the North Korean capital.

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

But North Korea has so far rejected South Korean civic groups' bids to visit the North for exchanges, taking issue with South Korea's support of the latest United Nations sanctions.

Hours after his release, the United States government blamed Pyongyang for a raft of cyber attacks stretching back to 2009 and warned more were likely. But the nation still has three more Americans in its jails.

Warmbier's parents said in a statement to The Associated Press that they had learned only a week ago that their son has been in a coma since March 2016. North Korea sentenced Warmbier to prison after he admitted trying to steal a propaganda banner during a trip there.

Tillerson said in a statement that the U.S. State Department continues to have discussions with the DPRK regarding three other U.S. citizens reported detained.

The uncertainty over Warmbier's condition and treatment in detention speaks to the opacity of North Korea's justice system.

Officials could not immediately confirm U.S. media reports that Warmbier had fallen into a coma during his incarceration.

There was no immediate confirmation from USA officials of North Korea's description of his illness.

Otto Warmbier
EPAThe University of Virginia student was accused of trying to steal a propaganda flag by North Korea

Tillerson did not elaborate on Warmbier's current health condition, and said he would not be offering additional comment out of respect for the family's privacy. This is the first time the Swedish diplomats were allowed to visit with Warmbier. Citing two men who said they studied with him in the U.S., CNN reports that Kim likely became a citizen in the 2000s, then later moved back to China.

Rodman, who endorsed presidential candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 election campaign and appeared twice as a contestant on Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" TV show, said his latest visit was merely created to visit old friends and to "have a good time". The official referred to them as "hostages".

North Korea on Tuesday freed one of the detainees, Otto Warmbier. Richardson has played a role in past negotiations with North Korea.

Following the May meeting in Oslo, North Korea urgently requested another meeting, which took place last week between the US envoy on North Korea, Joseph Yun, and the North's ambassador at the NY.

Officials involved in securing Warmbier's release told The Washington Post that it had nothing to do with Rodman's trip to Pyongyang, calling it a "bizarre coincidence" that might have been a deliberate ploy from North Korea to distract from Warmbier's condition.

The official, who was not authorized to speak on the record about the sequence of events and requested anonymity, said that after Tillerson consulted with Trump, Yun was dispatched to North Korea.

Yun arrived in Pyongyang early Monday with two American physicians. Warmbier was evacuated Tuesday.

It's unclear if Warmbier's release during Rodman's visit was purely coincidental. Former NBA star Dennis Rodman made his fifth visit to the country, telling reporters before his arrival that he hoped to "open a door" between Kim and the rest of the world.

The bombastic player - who once wore a wedding dress to promote one of his books - also knows Trump, having appeared as a contestant on his reality television show "Celebrity Apprentice".

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.

Senate heads toward showdown vote on Saudi arms sale
Saudi Arabia is not alone in receiving weapons from the United States - 103 nations bought weapons from the US from 2012 to 2016. Corker said Saudi Arabia was not targeting civilians and that guided weapons would lead to fewer civilian casualties.

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