Washington, Jun 14: In a rare exchange with the reclusive country North Korea, an American college student who is in coma while serving a 15-year prison term in North Korea was released and returned to the United States.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, said Warmbier, of Wyoming, in suburban Cincinnati, was en route to the US. Warmbier's parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, said he was in a coma and was flying home. They said they were told he has been in a coma since his trial, when he was last seen in public, and they had learned of this only one week ago.
"We want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalised and terrorised by the pariah regime" in North Korea, Warmbier's parents said. "We are so grateful that he will finally be with people who love him."
An airplane carrying Otto Warmbier, who's from Ohio, arrived in Cincinnati shortly before 10:20 pm (local time). Two ambulances were parked near an airport hangar. Warmbier's release came during a visit to North Korea by former NBA star Dennis Rodman, one of few people to have met both North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.
However, Department of State spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters Rodman had nothing to do with Warmbier's release.
Rodman had told reporters before arriving in Pyongyang that the issue of Americans detained by North Korea is "not my purpose right now." Securing Warmbier's release "was a big priority" for President Donald Trump, who worked "very hard and very closely" with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
North Korea's move to free Warmbier could potentially provide an opening for talks on security issues, the prospects still appear bleak, say reports.
The detention of Americans, often sentenced to draconian prison sentences for seemingly small offences in the totalitarian nation, has compounded tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.
International negotiations on the dispute over North Korea's nuclear program have been in limbo for years, as the US cranks up economic sanctions and North Korea won't give up weapons it considers a guarantee against invasion.