Rodman begins sightseeing on NKorea trip he hopes opens door

15 June, 2017, 01:18 | Author: Clay Erickson

At a press conference before his trial, a sobbing Warmbier said he had made "the worst mistake of my life" and pleaded to be released.

Had Kim Jong Un, a 90s basketball fanboy, traded a high profile American prisoner for a chance to play NBA Jam with his boyhood hero?

Visitors and medical personnel enter a transport plane carrying Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student who was imprisoned in North Korea in March 2016, before he is transferred to an ambulan.

The American university student Otto Warmbier was finally returned to his family after almost a year and a half of detention in North Korea. The State Department would not comment on Warmbier's condition, citing privacy concerns.

"Our son is coming home", Fred Warmbier said to The Washington Post on Tuesday morning after his son was evacuated. A senior USA official, however, told The New York Times that intelligence reports indicate Warmbier was brutally beaten during his detention in North Korea.

He informed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who consulted with the president, the officials said.

They also said they are grateful he "will finally be with people who love him". He was released Tuesday, more than 17 months after being detained. That was the last public acknowledgment of his detention. It is common for sections of tourist hotels to be reserved for North Korean staff and off-limits to foreigners.

Rodman, one of a select few Americans to actually sit down with Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, did not reveal his objective for traveling to North Korea as four Americans are now detained in Pyongyang.

An American college student who was released from a North Korean prison is finally home but in a coma and undergoing treatment at an OH hospital. "We get to see our son Otto tonight". In addition to Warmbier, three other US nationals remain in North Korean custody on various allegations of espionage.

The revelation that he had been in a coma in North Korea for more than a year will inject new momentum into efforts to have the other three released, said Evans Revere, a former senior official in the State Department who still talks to North Korean representatives. "In no uncertain terms, North Korea must explain the causes of his coma".

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Richardson added that it was very likely a coincidence that Warmbier had been released while Rodman was visiting North Korea and could be meeting with its leader, Kim.

USA diplomats, members of Congress and North Korea experts also were hesitant to declare a new chapter in bilateral relations.

"Dennis Rodman had nothing to do with the release of Mr. Warmbier", said Heather Nauert, a State Department spokesperson.

Rodman's current trip is his first since Trump, his former "Celebrity Apprentice" boss, became president.

Warmbier was one of four Americans detained in North Korea.

This, according to my colleagues' reporting, was followed by an urgent meeting between North Korean and State Department officials to organize Warmbier's release on humanitarian grounds. A 2009 visit by former President Bill Clinton secured the freedom of American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling.

North Korea announced Warmbier's arrest in late January 2016, saying he committed an anti-state crime with "the tacit connivance of the USA government and under its manipulation".

The other two Americans being held were both affiliated with the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, a private institution run by Korean American Christians that is known as PUST.

After North Korea accelerated its nuclear and ballistic-missile testing programs in recent months, the Trump administration declared an end to the Obama-era policy of "strategic patience", which aimed to force Pyongyang to freeze its nuclear program through economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation.

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