North Korea releases US student held for 17 months

The State Department says this was the first time the United States was able to confirm the status of the student since he was sentenced to hard labor as a result of what North Korea deemed "anti-state acts".

Otto Warmbier, the American student arrested in North Korea about a year and a half ago for stealing a poster with propaganda slogans, was released from captivity. "At the moment, we're just treating this like he's been in an accident", Fred Warmbier told The Washington Post.

"Since March 2, no one has seen or heard from Otto". Yun was then dispatched to North Korea and visited Warmbier with two doctors on Monday, and demanded his release on humanitarian grounds.

"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. He was sentenced back in March 2016 after confessing on television to trying to steal a propaganda banner. Sandy Hausman reports on what's known about Otto Warmbier and on reaction from the University of Virginia, where he would have graduated this year.

Mr Tillerson made no mention of Mr Warmbier's condition in his statement, saying only that he was on his way home to be reunited with his family and would not make any further comment, out of respect for the privacy of the family.

They also said they are grateful Mr Warmbier "will finally be with people who love him".

June 13, 2017 Warmbier was evacuated from North Korea, accompanied by a medical team and a State Department representative.

The announcement of Warmbier's release came as former professional basketball star Dennis Rodman traveled Tuesday to North Korea on a trip he said he hoped would "open a door" between Trump and leaders in Pyongyang.

Three other U.S. citizens remain in custody in North Korea.

The US government condemned the sentence and accused North Korea of using such American detainees as political pawns.

- Americans Matthew Miller and Kenneth Bae went home in November 2014 after their release was secured through a secret mission by the top USA intelligence official.

Otto Warmbier is an economics graduate from the University of Virginia, originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. USA officials then urged those with the ability to persuade Pyongyang to ratchet up the pressure to get him released, said a source, who is familiar with the government's efforts.

Warmbier will reportedly be delivered to his hometown of Cincinatti, Ohio on Tuesday night, although it's unclear at this point what his fate will be. Officials involving with securing Warmbier's release told The Washington Post that Rodman had nothing to do with it. Rodman, in an interview with CNN before landing in North Korea, said he was "trying to accomplish something we both need", referring to himself and the Trump administration. Tony Kim, one of the men recently detained as he was leaving the country, is a USA professor.

After a video of his statement emerged, the Obama administration placed new sanctions on North Korea.

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