North Korea releases USA student held for 17 months

North Korea releases USA student held for 17 months

A senior aide to Mr. Portman said the senator had been working for months to try to help secure Mr. Warmbier's release, consulting President Trump and Mr. Tillerson as well as John Kerry, the former secretary of state, and Bill Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico and a periodic negotiator with the North Korean government.

Warmbier was serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor in North Korea for alleged anti-state acts. "We have been told that he has been in that condition since March of 2016". Rodman, who has traveled to the isolated nation four times since 2013, had told reporters before arriving in Pyongyang that he hopes his trip will "open a door" for Trump.

He was in North Korea as a tourist with Young Pioneer Tours when he was arrested on 2 January 2016.

Since taking office in January, U.S. President Donald Trump has faced growing tensions with North Korea, which has conducted a series of ballistic missile tests in defiance of U.S. and global sanctions.

Mr. Rodman is the only American to have spent substantial time with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. A medical team and aircraft were organized, and North Korea was informed that a delegation would travel there. He was arrested on January 2, 2016, at Pyongyang Sunan International Airport on the last day of a five-day tour.

Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in 2016 after attempting to steal a propaganda poster.

Sen. Rob Portman of OH said in a statement that Tillerson had confirmed to him Warmbier's release. "At the moment, we're just treating this like he's been in an accident", Fred Warmbier told The Washington Post.

A U.S. student freed from a North Korean jail has been in a coma for more than a year, his parents have said. In April, an Egyptian court acquitted Aya Hijazi, an Egyptian-American charity worker held for almost three years, after Trump raised her case with the Egyptian president. "This is a Trump-led effort", one said.

They were arrested this year for "hostile acts" and trying to "overturn" the government. Yun was then dispatched to North Korea and visited Warmbier with two doctors on Monday, and demanded his release on humanitarian grounds.

U.S. officials dismissed this, saying he was traveling as a private citizen, but the basketball icon is probably Kim and Trump's only mutual friend. It is the only private educational institution in North Korea and has more than 60 foreign faculty members, including from the United States, Canada, Britain and China, according to its website.

Immediately after that visit, North Korea contacted the request a meeting with a State Department official.

Tillerson says the State Department secured Warmbier's release at President Donald Trump's direction.

That was used as evidence in his hour-long trial, during which North Korea accused him of committing "hostile acts" against the regime at the urging of a purported member of a church in his home state of OH, a secretive university organization and the Central Intelligence Agency.

At a tearful press conference in February, Warmbier read a prepared statement and said he tried to take an "important political slogan from the staff-only area of the Yanggakdo International Hotel".

But when speaking with journalists in Beijing on Tuesday, Rodman declined to say whether he consulted Trump about the visit.

In November, 2014, then-U.S. intelligence chief James Clapper visited Pyongyang and negotiated the release of Bae and Matthew Miller, another American.

There is an internet urban legend that North Korea is a pothead paradise and maybe even the next Amsterdam of pot tourism. The third is Kim Dong-chul, a businessman who was arrested in October 2015 on espionage charges.

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