Tillerson: North Korea releases US citizen Otto Warmbier

Cheryl Sanders
June 14, 2017

According to Tillerson, Warmbier is on his way home to be reunited with his family. He was given a one-hour trial in March 2016, when the government presented fingerprints, CCTV footage and pictures of a political banner to make its case against the American student.

"Our son is coming home", Fred Warmbier told the Post after Otto had left North Korea. "We get to see our son Otto tonight". Rodman's trip caused a media frenzy because of the heightened tensions between North Korea and the United States, but also raised speculation that he might be going as an envoy to secure the release of Warmbier and three other Americans being detained. 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. He was arrested by North Korean authorities and later shown on video giving a tearful confession in March 2016.

Warmbier was a student at the University of Virginia. It was the last time he was seen publicly.

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

Clinton in 2009 flew to Pyongyang to negotiate the release of USA television journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, jailed after wandering across to the North from China.

U.S. Senator Rob Portman of OH said: "Otto's detainment and sentence was unnecessary and appalling". The last 17 months have been an extremely hard and emotionally trying time for the Warmbier family.

This combination of file photos shows former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman in Pyongyang, North Korea on December 20, 2013, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang on April 15, 2017. But there is no connection between the two events, US National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton said.

The trip comes at a time of heightened tensions between the US and North Korea, which has conducted missile tests and detained four American citizens.

The high-profile star's visits to North Korea have largely revolved around the sport that made him famous.

Tillerson, at a U.S. Senate hearing on Tuesday, declined to comment on Warmbier's condition. United States officials then urged those with the ability to persuade Pyongyang to ratchet up the pressure to get him released, the source said.

It is not yet known for sure if Rodman had anything to do with Warmbier's release.

Rodman said the issue of several Americans currently detained by North Korea is "not my goal right now".

Two of them, Kim Sang Duk and Kim Hak-song, are academics who worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.

He said the department would have no further comment "out of respect for the privacy of Mr. Warmbier and his family".

But relations between Pyongyang and Washington were considerably less tense in 2013 than they have been in recent months. That would be grounds in North Korea for a subversion charge.

Former basketball star Dennis Rodman of the USA shows a picture which he took with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as he arrives at Beijing Capital International Airport September 7, 2013.

Rodman, one of the few people to know both of the nuclear-armed leaders, sported a black T-shirt advertising a marijuana cybercurrency as he talked to reporters briefly before his flight from Beijing to the North Korean capital.

"I'm sorry for what's going on in North Korea, the certain situations", Rodman told CNN after returning from Pyongyang in 2014, but he didn't specify what exactly those "situations" were and wasn't contrite about the visit itself. No update on his condition has been given by the State Department.

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