Student Released By North Korea Arrives In Ohio
- Author: Jon Douglas Jun 19, 2017,
Jun 19, 2017, 0:07
The 22-year-old was then taken by ambulance to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
He had not been seen in public since.
Warmbier's release fell on the same day as former National Basketball Association star Dennis Rodman's arrival in Pyongyang for unknown reasons, his fifth known visit to the North. White House deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One Tuesday night that "bringing Otto home was a big priority for the president". There had been only one reported consular visit with Warmbier from Swedish diplomats in March 2016.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family as they continue to battle for Otto's life".
His four past trips in 2013 and 2014 generated a storm of publicity, most of it unfavorable, and did little in terms of diplomacy. He was freed Tuesday.
Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman, left, towers over North Korean children during his visit to Mangyongdae, the birth place of late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung on Wednesday, June 14, 2017, in Pyongyang, North Korea.
USA officials refused to comment on Warmbier's condition, but former ambassador and New Mexico governor Bill Richardson said he had spoken with the family.
It's not clear if Warmbier's release during Rodman's visit was purely coincidental.
He was expected to arrive in North Korea later on Tuesday for a trip that the State Department said was not an official USA visit, CNN reported on Monday.
In the past, North Korea has held out until senior US officials or statesmen came to personally bail out detainees.
Such direct consultations between the two governments are rare. His family says he is in a coma. Thousands of USA troops are based in South Korea, and the Demilitarized Zone between the North and South is one of the most heavily fortified borders in the world.
Warmbier, 22, a University of Virginia undergraduate, was convicted and sentenced in a one-hour trial in North Korea's Supreme Court. He was evacuated on Tuesday.
Authorities are believed to have arrested Kim Hak Song, who had been in North Korea for several weeks working at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), on May 6 this year as he was about to leave the country.
Otto Warmbier was sentenced to hard labour for attempting to steal a propaganda sign while on a visit. He said Warmbier, of Wyoming, in suburban Cincinnati, was en route to the U.S.
Warmbier said he accepted the offer because his family was "suffering from very severe financial difficulties".
Two Ohio senators are denouncing North Korea after a resident of their state was said to be in a coma after being released from a prison in that country.
But State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the visit "had nothing to do with the release". He flew home Tuesday in a coma-like state, according to some media reports. Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Cleveland said the country's "despicable actions. must be condemned". The North Koreans agreed and he was flown out on Tuesday, the official said.
They say that Otto Warmbier is on a Medivac flight on his way home.
The North Koreans later urgently requested another meeting in NY, and Yun met North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations on June 6, when he was told about Warmbier's "condition", the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Rodman arrived in North Korea on June 13 after saying he wants to "open the door" to the regime and claiming that US President Donald Trump would be pleased with his mission.