North Korea Frees Jailed US College Student


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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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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.

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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