Pyongyang, North Korea. The North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, in his infinite wisdom, has released an American student who is quite ill. The student had tried to steal a political banner and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Kim Jong-Un has made all of that go away, and set the young man free from the DPRK.
American officials met senior North Korean officials in Oslo this past May, where it was agreed that Swedish officials in Pyongyang, who handle US consular affairs there, would be allowed to see all four American detainees, a State Department official said.
The North Koreans later urgently requested another meeting in New York, and Joseph Yun met North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations on June 6 and was told about Warmbier’s “condition.” Tillerson consulted with Trump, and arrangements were made for Yun and a medical team to travel to Pyongyang, the official said.
The American university student held prisoner in North Korea for 17 months and said by his family to be in a coma, has been medically evacuated from the reclusive country after a rare visit there from a high-level US official.
Otto Warmbier, 22, a University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati, was on his way back to the United States on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said. Hours after the release, the U.S. government blamed Pyongyang for a raft of cyber attacks stretching back to 2009, while warning more were likely.
The release came after Joseph Yun, the State Department’s special envoy on North Korea, traveled to Pyongyang and demanded his freedom on “humanitarian grounds,” capping a flurry of secret diplomatic contacts, a US official said.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, asked whether Warmbier’s release could open the way for dialogue amid high tensions between the Trump administration and North Korea, said: “It’s just too soon to say.”
Warmbier’s release came as former basketball star Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea on Tuesday, returning to the nuclear-armed country where he previously met leader Kim Jong Un.The State Department denied any connection between Warmbier’s release and Rodman’s visit, which the Trump administration said it did not authorize.