(FILES) This file photo taken on February 29, 2016 and released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on March 1, 2016 shows US student Otto Frederick Warmbier (R), who was arrested for committing hostile acts against North Korea, speaking at a press conference in Pyongyang. North Korea has released 22-year-old US student Otto Warmbier from a 15 year sentence of hard labor, officials said June 13, 2017, as former US basketball star Dennis Rodman arrived in Pyongyang. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert confirmed a message from US Senator Rob Portman announcing the release, 18 months after the young man was detained. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA / Handout
North Korea has released 22-year-old American student Otto Warmbier from a 15-year sentence of hard labor, officials said Tuesday, as former US basketball star Dennis Rodman arrived in Pyongyang.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed the release, and said Washington remains in talks with the isolated regime “regarding three other US citizens reported detained.”
Officials could not immediately confirm US media reports that Warmbier has fallen into a coma during his incarceration.
“We have no comment on Mr Warmbier’s condition, out of respect for him and his family,” Tillerson told US senators at the start of a hearing into his budget.
Warmbier, a student at the University of Virginia, was arrested for removing a political banner from a wall in a North Korean hotel during a visit.
Warmbier was detained at the airport as he was leaving the country with a tour group in January 2016.
The United States has accused the North of using Warmbier as a political pawn and condemned the sentence as far out of proportion to his alleged crime.