Otto Warmbier has been released by North Korea after spending well over a year in prison for allegedly attempting to steal a propaganda poster in a hotel during a visit with a tour group in 2016. The tour group had never had problems with any of their trips in the past.
Warmbier had been sentenced to 15 years hard labor, and the Trump administration had previously vowed to bring him home. Gone since March of 2016, that’s exactly what will happen.
— Erik Rosales (@ErikRosalesCBN) June 13, 2017
While the news is a relief to the parents, there’s still bad news: Otto is in a coma and it’s unclear exactly how long that has been the case. He was perfectly healthy prior to the trip, an athlete who played soccer.
Here’s more from CBN News:
The parents of the 22-year old American college student say their son is in a coma and was on a Medivac flight on his way home.
Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement to The Associated Press that they have been told their son has been in a coma since March 2016, but they had just learned about his condition only one week ago.
“We want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime” in North Korea, they said.
Warmbier was serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor for alleged anti-state acts.
His release comes as former NBA player Dennis Rodman was paying a return visit to Pyongyang.
Tillerson said, “At the direction of the president, the Department of State has secured the release of Otto Warmbier from North Korea. Mr. Warmbier is en route to the U.S. where he will be reunited with his family.”
The statement offered no other details and made no mention of Rodman’s visit.
But it noted that the State Department is continuing “to have discussions” with North Korea about the release of other American citizens who are jailed there. Rodman had said he did not plan to raise the issue of the fate of the Americans while he was in North Korea.
CBN News reports that Warmbier came down with botulism and that’s why the North Korean government chose to release him.