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14 Jun 2017

NKorea releases US student, in coma since a year

North Korea releases US student from jail

North Korea has released 22-year-old American student Otto Warmbier from jail, but he is in a coma. He arrived in Ohio on June 13.

His family says they found out only last week that he had been in coma since shortly after his trial in March 2016.

He had been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for trying to steal a propaganda sign.

In context

North Korea releases US student from jail
Why was Otto Warmbier arrested?


Why was Otto Warmbier arrested?

Warmbier, a University of Virginia student, was visiting North Korea last year as a tourist. He was arrested on January 2 for "hostile acts".

Later, he confessed he had removed a political slogan from the Yanggakdo International Hotel. "The aim was to harm the motivation…of the Korean people," he said.

His parents said they hadn't been in contact with him since over a year.

Warmbier reportedly contracted botulism, a paralysis-causing disease

Warmbier has been taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. His parents had reportedly been told that he had contracted botulism, a rare sickness that caused paralysis. He had been given a sleeping pill, and had been in a coma ever since.

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Other Americans in North Korean custody

There are at least three other Americans in NKorean detention. Kim Dong-chul, a 62-year-old naturalized American born in SKorea, was sentenced to 10 years hard labour in April'16 for spying.

Korean-American professor Tony Kim was detained this April; the reasons are still unclear.

Kim Hak-song, a Pyongyang University of Science and Technology employee, was detained last month for "hostile acts" against the state.

Speculations about US sportstar Dennis Rodman's NKorea visit


Speculations about US sportstar Dennis Rodman's NKorea visit

American basketball player Dennis Rodman, a friend of NKorean dictator Kim Jong-un, is in Pyonyang.

He told media his purpose was to "see if I can keep bringing sports to NKorea", but there are speculations he will plead for release of US detainees.

"I'm just trying to open the door," he said, adding "I'm…trying to accomplish something we both (US President Donald Trump) need".

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