UVA student, said to be in coma, released by North Korea

Candice Alexander
June 14, 2017

The U.S. announcement that came as former National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman was paying a return visit to Pyongyang.

If you were like me and woke this morning to the sight of Dennis Rodman wearing a cannabis t-shirt while making another trip to North Korea, don't worry, you were not alone in thinking "What in the hell?" But efforts to convince North Korea to release the men now held had not been successful until Warmbier's release Tuesday. The recluse regime has been put under economic sanctions due to the nation's missile tests.

Officials involved in securing Warmbier's release told The Post that it had nothing to do with Rodman's trip to Pyongyang, calling it a "bizarre coincidence" that might have been a deliberate ploy from North Korea to distract from Warmbier's condition.

Just this morning, North Korea released U.S. citizen Otto Warmbier from prison by airlift, as it is reported that he was in a coma for over a year while in prison.

Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia undergraduate student, was just released from North Korea after being detained there for more than a year.

A senior aide to Mr. Portman said the senator had been working for months to try to help secure Mr. Warmbier's release, consulting President Trump and Mr. Tillerson as well as John Kerry, the former secretary of state, and Bill Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico and a periodic negotiator with the North Korean government. The North Koreans "were informed that the airplane would land, American and medical officials would get out". He returns to the United States as questions swirl about his health and what happened to him while he was detained by the North Korean government.

South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam met with Thomas Shannon, undersecretary of state for political affairs, and exchanged views related to preparations for the summit talks scheduled later this month.

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

Richardson, a former Democratic congressman, UN Ambassador, US energy secretary and ex-governor of New Mexico, welcomed Warmbier's release but said: "we are deeply concerned regarding his health".

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A State Department spokesman told the Associated Press they were aware of Rodman's visit, but that he was not in North Korea in any "official capacity". He was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years of hard labor after being accused of stealing a sign at a hotel in Pyongyang, the capital. They said they have been told their son has been in a coma since March 2016 - when he was last seen in public, at his trial when he was sentenced to hard labor - and they had learned of this only one week ago. "We are so grateful that he will finally be with people who love him", the Warmbiers said in the statement.

The three other detainees are all Korean-American men.

The North has occasionally jailed USA citizens and released them only after visits by high-profile political figures, including former president Bill Clinton.

Rodman has been criticized for failing to use his influence on leaders who are otherwise isolated diplomatically from the rest of the world.

North Korea regularly accuses Washington and Seoul of sending spies to overthrow its government to enable the USA -backed South Korean government to take control of the Korean Peninsula.

"Otto has left North Korea".

Rodman's current trip is his first since Trump, his former "Celebrity Apprentice" boss, became president.

There is an internet urban legend that North Korea is a pothead paradise and maybe even the next Amsterdam of pot tourism.

Other reports by VgToday

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