New details are emerging about United States efforts to secure the release of American college student Otto Warmbier after more than 17 months in detention in North Korea.
Warmbier had attempted to steal a propaganda banner of the North Korean government while he was visiting the country.
Warmbier was serving a 15-year term with hard labor for anti-state acts he allegedly committed during a visit in January 2016.
Warmbier’s parents were told their son was given a sleeping pill soon after his trial in March a year ago and never woke.
Headed back to North Korea.
“Since March 2, no one has seen or heard from Otto”.
Rob Portman, who represents Warmbier’s home state of Ohio.
Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., meanwhile, said he was “heartened to see the reuniting of the Warmbier family, despite the tragic circumstances”.
His family told the Washington Post in April they had not heard from him in 16 months.
Rodman visited North Korea in 2013 and 2014 and is a friend of leader Kim Jong-un. But there is no connection between the two events, US National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton said.
To its credit, the Trump administration arranged for Mr. Warmbier’s evacuation.
Rodman also did not mention Warmbier or the three other Americans now detained in North Korea when he spoke with journalists in Beijing before leaving for Pyongyang on Tuesday. “My objective is to go over there and try to see if I can keep bringing sports to North Korea”. Tillerson made no mention of Rodman’s visit, and said the department would have no further comment on Warmbier and his condition, citing privacy concerns.
In fact, political activist, consultant and National Basketball Association agent David Sugarman put on the full court press months ago recognizing it was a similar situation to that of Kenneth Bae who Sugarman helped to free from a North Korean prison in 2014.
Rodman had nothing to do with his release, the source added.
North Korea is believed to still hold at least two US citizens ― Tony Kim, who had been in the country teaching at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, and Kim Dong-chul, an American businessman imprisoned on charges of espionage.
Two of them, Kim Sang Duk and Kim Hak-song, are academics who worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.
Kim Dong Chul has been sentenced to 10 years of hard labor. “We strongly, strongly suggest that Americans do not go to North Korea”.
The U.S. government condemned the sentence and accused North Korea of using such American detainees as political pawns.
The announcement came amid tension between Washington and Pyongyang following a series of missile tests by the North, focusing attention on an arms build-up that Pentagon chief Jim Mattis on Monday dubbed “a clear and present danger to all”. But the totalitarian country’s officials claim that Warmbier’s episode lasted only an hour, although they did not provide any other details about his care during the sickness and during his year-long coma.
Once the Swedish delegation was finally granted permission for a visit, the North Koreans immediately asked for the meeting with Yun.