North Korea has released an imprisoned American university student, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson revealed Tuesday.
Otto Frederick Warmbier, a University of Virginia undergraduate, was arrested last January while visiting North Korea as a tourist. He was detained for stealing a propaganda poster from a hotel and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for his anti-state activities.
Warmbier has not been seen since the tearful public trial.
BREAKING: North Korea releases jailed US university student Otto Warmbier, Secretary of State Tillerson says.
— The Associated Press (@AP) June 13, 2017
Warmbier, who has been in detention for 17 months, is being medically evacuated back to the U.S. He is in a coma and has been for more than a year, his parents told The Washington Post Tuesday. Warmbier, 22, will arrive home in Cincinnati Tuesday evening.
Shortly after his trial, he reportedly developed a case of botulism. North Korean medical personnel gave him a sleeping pill, and he never woke up. Warmbier is in “bad shape” and being transported home on a Medivac flight.
“We want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime in North Korean,” Warmbier’s parents said in a statement, according to CNN.
North Korea is still holding three other U.S. citizens in captivity — Kim Dong Chul, Kim Sang Duk, and Kim Hak-song. The Department of State has a travel warning for North Korea which instructs Americans to avoid travel to the country, which has a history of arbitrarily detaining U.S. citizens.
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