United States confirms high-level visit to N. Korea behind student's release

Two people hug outside the plane carrying Otto Warmbier a 22-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student who was imprisoned in North Korea in March 2016 before he is transferred from a transport aircraft to an amb

Two people hug outside the plane carrying Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student who was imprisoned in North Korea in March 2016, before he is transferred from a transport aircraft to an amb.

The State Department denied any connection between Warmbier's release and Rodman's visit, which President Donald Trump's administration said it did not authorise.

Warmbier's release came as former USA basketball star Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea on Tuesday, returning to the increasingly isolated nuclear-armed country where he has previously met leader Kim Jong Un.

"Dennis Rodman had nothing to do with the release of Mr. Warmbier", said Heather Nauert, a State Department spokeswoman, adding that the government was "thankful" that he would soon be home in his parents' arms.

Warmbier's family said in a statement that he is in a coma and on his way home. "We are so grateful that he will finally be with people who love him". Earlier this year, as we discussed in this space, there were fears that Trump was participating in a risky escalation of tensions in the region. North Korea on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, is expecting another visit by Rodman, who has made several trips to the country but has been criticized for insensitive comments and for regaling leader Kim Jong Un with "Happy Birthday" in 2014.

Earlier Tuesday, Fred Warmbier told The Cincinnati Enquirer said the family would hold a news conference Wednesday in Cincinnati, with the details yet to be finalized. North Korea is not to be trusted, either in what it says or what it does. The announcement came shortly after former National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman arrived in Pyongyang for a return visit to North Korea.

The three other Americans detained by North Korea remain there.

An American college student who was released from a North Korean prison has been taken to an OH hospital for treatment.

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They said: "We want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalised and terrorised by the pariah regime" in North Korea. The basketballer said, on this trip, his aim is to try to "bring sports to North Korea".

In court the student was convicted of "crime against the state".

Warmbier said before his trial that he tried to steal the propaganda poster as a trophy for an acquaintance, who offered him a used vehicle worth $13,200 in exchange for the item. In February 2013, Rodman, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, became one of the first Americans then known to have met Kim Jong Un, who had taken over the leadership of North Korea after his father's death in 2011.

North Korea on Tuesday freed one of the detainees, Otto Warmbier. He was sentenced to 15 years hard labor following a brief one hour trial and, despite pleas from American State Department officials that his sentence was "unduly harsh".

He added that because America has no trade with North Korea, the most effective way to impose pressure is through "secondary sanctions" that threaten companies from third countries with losing access to the U.S. market if they deal with Pyongyang.

She said USA officials had a hard time getting information about Warmbier from North Korea. Joseph Yun, the US special envoy on North Korea, met with North Korean officials in Oslo in May and reached agreement for Swedish diplomats to visit Warmbier. Moreover, Rodman himself said in advance that he was not intending to discuss the Americans detained by the regime.

Any visit to North Korea by a high-profile American is a political minefield.