Timeline of Otto Warmbier's saga in North Korea

Lauren Perry
June 14, 2017

A plane carrying Warmbier arrived at a Cincinnati airport around 10:20 p.m. Tuesday. Tillerson did not discuss Warmbier's medical condition.

USA student Otto Frederick Warmbier who was arrested for committing hostile acts against North Korea.

Dennis Rodman, the former National Basketball Association bad boy who has palled around with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, flew to Pyongyang on Tuesday on a trip he says he hopes will "open a door" for his former "Celebrity Apprentice" boss — U.S. President Donald Trump. Warmbier later appeared and admitted to taking the propaganda poster. His current visit has already been roundly criticized by some for its timing, during high tensions between the US and North Korea over its weapons programs and recent missile launches.

Three other Americans remain imprisoned in North Korea. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor for subversion as he tearfully confessed that he had tried to steal a propaganda banner.

The State Department declined to comment on Rodman's trip, but administration officials have told other media outlets that the athlete was traveling in a private capacity.

Mr Warmbier said he accepted the offer as his family was "suffering from very severe financial difficulties". According to the AP, Warmbier fell into a coma shortly after his trial in March of 2016, but his parents only learned of their son's condition a week ago.

"This has been an unimaginable, traumatic year for them", said Sara Kenny, University of Virginia Student Council President, about the Warmbier family.

USA college student Otto Warmbier was flown from North Korea to Cincinnati, Ohio on Tuesday, and quickly brought to a hospital.

They added they were grateful their son "will finally be with people who love him". Resident Amy Mayer says news of his release has sent waves of shock and joy through the neighborhood.

Officials for PotCoin, which is likened to a smaller-scale Bitcoin for weed entrepreneurs and their customers, also did not explain why they've put up the money for Rodman's mission.

Swedish diplomats, who represent USA interests in North Korea because the United States has no diplomatic relations with the country, were denied access to him.

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It's not clear if Warmbier's release during Rodman's visit was purely coincidental.

Rodman did not raise the issue of Bae's imprisonment with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un while in Pyongyang. He says in a statement that the State Department secured Warmbier's release at the direction of President Donald Trump. It was a trip sponsored by PotCoin, a digital currency for legally purchasing marijuana, and was meant to "keep bringing sports to North Korea", the former N.B.A. player told reporters in the Beijing airport Tuesday.

This is the Hall of Famer's fifth trip to North Korea, and he said this time he's hoping to come back with a "positive attitude".

As NPR's Elise Hu reports from Seoul, the US State Department has issued several warnings advising Americans not to travel to North Korea.

Asked whether he was working on the release of detained Americans, he said, "that is not my goal right now".

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that Otto Warmbier, an American student detained in North Korea, has been released. He worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.

Thus, nothing more than a New Year's Eve college prank was elevated to phony charges that Warmbier had committed an act tantamount to trying to overthrow the government.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor after a tearful one-hour trial. Three more Americans are still detained.

The 22-year-old student from suburban Cincinnati was supposed to graduate from the University of Virginia in May.

"He is on a medivac flight on his way home".

At the meeting, North Korea agreed that Swedish diplomats could visit all four American detainees, which at that time included Warmbier.

Other reports by VgToday

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