Published: Sun, June 18, 2017
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

North Korea releases Cincinnati native from hard labor camp

North Korea releases Cincinnati native from hard labor camp

An airplane carrying Otto Warmbier, who's from OH, arrived in Cincinnati shortly before 10:20 p.m.

He was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years' imprisonment with hard labor and, according to his parents, fell into a coma shortly thereafter. "We wish him well, but we have issued travel warnings to Americans and suggested they not travel to North Korea for their own safety", U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon told reporters after discussing the North Korean missile threat and other issues with Japanese counterparts.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced Warmbier's release Tuesday and said he'd be reunited with his family.

A US citizen who is being held in North Korea on charges of "hostile acts" against the Kim Jong Un regime may actually have faced different charges at the time of his arrest, according to an eyewitness.

A Department of State spokeswoman said that out of respect for the privacy of Warmbier's family, "we have no further comment".

On arriving in Cincinnatti's Lunken Airport, Warmbier was transferred to a waiting ambulance that rushed him to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for urgent treatment, Fox News reported.

Warmbier's parents were told their son was given a sleeping pill soon after his trial in March previous year and never woke.

He said: "We are in a stage where we are moving into this next effort of 'Are we going to have to, in effect, start taking secondary sanctions because countries we have provided information to have not, or are unwilling, or don't have the ability to do that?'" "We get to see our son Otto tonight".

Tillerson's announcement comes as former National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman is paying a return visit to North Korea. In a televised trial, he was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years in prison with hard labor as he publicly confessed to trying to steal a propaganda banner.

US student Otto Warmbier is escorted at the supreme court in Pyongyang, North Korea, in 2016.

Numerous U.S. officials, however, are questioning North Korea's narrative.

Otto Warmbier arrived in North Korea in December 2015 as part of a tour group. Rodman told CNN he wasn't there to lobby for the release of any of the four Americans detained in the country. This reportedly occurred a year ago - but his family was just alerted of his condition last week, according to a statement released by the Warmbier family.

"Sadly, he is in a coma and we have been told he has been in that condition since March of 2016", Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement. "North Korea is persecuting their savior, a person who came to help them".

U.S. Senator Rob Portman of OH said: "Otto's detainment and sentence was unnecessary and appalling, and North Korea should be universally condemned for its abhorrent behaviour". North Korea is not to be trusted, either in what it says or what it does. He said Warmbier's sentence was "unnecessary and appalling".

City councilwoman Jenni McCauley said the tight-knit community was "thrilled" to have Warmbier back.

The 22-year-old University of Virginia student was medically evacuated from North Korea and flown to Cincinnati late Tuesday.

Sen. Rob Portman of OH said in a statement that Tillerson had confirmed to him Warmbier's release.

North Korea's first private university, PUST was founded and remains operated by actors outside the country, mostly Evangelical Christian organizations. Warmbier graduated from there in 2013 as class salutatorian and had played soccer.

Rodman, one of the few people to know both of the nuclear-armed leaders, sported a black T-shirt advertising a cybercurrency used to buy and sell marijuana as he talked to reporters briefly before boarding his flight from Beijing to the North Korean capital.

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