North Korea frees American student said to be in coma

According to his family, they were informed that their son, who was on his way back to the United States on Tuesday, has been in a coma for over a year, the Wall Street Journal reports. Yun was then dispatched to North Korea and visited Warmbier with two doctors on Monday, and demanded his release on humanitarian grounds.

"He is on a medivac flight on his way home".

"We have been told that he has been in that condition since March of 2016".

During that meeting in New York, Yun was told that Warmbier contracted botulism a year ago and went into a coma after taking a sleeping pill, according to the senior United States official.

They said: "We want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime" in North Korea. At the same time, his trips have also faced ridicule and criticism from some USA politicians and activists who view them as fodder for North Korean propaganda.

Warmbier has said he arrived in the country on December 29, 2015, and was arrested January 2, 2016, as he prepared to fly out of Pyongyang's worldwide airport.

A University of Virginia student, Warmbier, 22, is due to arrive home in Cincinnati on Tuesday evening.

North Korean state-run media said early previous year that Warmbier was arrested for what they described as "a hostile act" against the regime.

Warmbier was sentenced in March 2016 after a televised tearful public confession to trying to steal a propaganda banner.

Republican Sen. Rob Portman says North Korea should be "universally condemned for its abhorrent behavior".

"We received a call from Cindy and Fred Warmbier early today to update us on Otto's condition". He said that over the past 18 months, Warmbier's family has "had to endure more than any family should have to bear".

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

The North has occasionally jailed United States citizens and released them only after visits by high-profile political figures including former president Bill Clinton. Rodman had said he did not plan to raise the fate of the Americans while he was in North Korea. He is scheduled for sightseeing events and a meeting with North Korea's sports minister before he leaves the country on Saturday.

"At the direction of the president, the Department of State has secured the release of Otto Warmbier from North Korea", the department announced in a statement.

"Well that's not my objective right now", said Rodman. Three Americans remain in custody. The other is a businessman named Kim Dong Chul.

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 had aimed to force Pyongyang to freeze its nuclear program through economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation.

On Tuesday, Warmbier was evacuated from North Korea, accompanied by a medical team and a State Department representative.

Mr Warmbier was serving a 15-year prison term with hard labour for alleged anti-state acts.

But the aide added: "You now have a channel with a senior administration official and a North Korean official with some degree of confidence".

His case largely stayed quiet after that until May of this year, when his parents decided it was time to speak out.

"We wish him well, but we have issued travel warnings to Americans and suggested they not travel to North Korea for their own safety", U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon told reporters after discussing the North Korean missile threat and other issues with Japanese counterparts.

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