North Korea decided to release a prisoner, Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student who was originally given a 15 year sentence for stealing a poster. Warmbier has been in custody since 2015.
It turns out the country released him as a part of a medical evacuation – the young student was said to have fallen gravely ill over a year ago. He has been returned to the United States to be reunited with his family, except, when he arrived he was in a coma.
North Korea said that the student came down with a case of botulism, and was given a pill while he was being treated by North Korean doctors. After the pull, Warmbier hasn’t woken up.
The Daily Mail continues:
North Korea has released the American student who it sentenced to 15 years hard labor for stealing a poster – and he has been evacuated from the country in a coma after mysteriously falling ill a year ago.
Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student, was caught allegedly stealing the poster from his hotel on New Year’s Eve 2015 and imprisoned after being paraded for the cameras at a show trial in March.
Now it has been revealed that he has been in a coma since shortly after his last public appearance – after the North Koreans say he contracted botulism and doctors gave him a ‘sleeping pill’ from which he never woke up.
Warmbier was released and medically evacuated through a US military base in Japan, and is due to arrive in his home city of Cincinnati on Tuesday evening, his parents told the Washington Post.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the State Department secured Warmbier’s release at the direction of President Donald Trump.
Tillerson’s statement did not mention the medical condition.
Tillerson says the State Department continues discussing three other detained Americans with North Korea.
The announcement comes as former NBA player Dennis Rodman is paying a return visit to North Korea.
The visit sparked speculation that Rodman, who has close ties to the North Korean regime led by Kim Jong-Un, could negotiate for the release of Warmbier and three other US citizens being held in the isolated country.
Warmbier is a University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati.
He was sentenced in March 2016 after a televised tearful public confession to trying to steal a propaganda banner.