Timeline of Otto Warmbier's saga in North Korea

North Korea frees American citizen US state secretary

A UVA student who was arrested, tried and sentenced to hard labor in North Korea has been released, but his family says he's in a coma.

There is a chance that the return to North Korea of former National Basketball Association (NBA) player Dennis Rodman could help efforts to release the three other Americans being held there. A senior administration official said the Trump administration did not authorize this trip.

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. He has visited North Korea four times, including a 2014 trip where he was shadowed by a crew from Vice.

Such direct consultations between the two governments are rare as they do not have formal diplomatic relations.

While North Korea's move to free Warmbier could potentially provide an opening for talks on security issues, the prospects still appear bleak.

North Korea frequently charges the US with sending spies to sabotage and overthrow its government, and bans proselytizing by Christians; the communist regime outlaws religion. Three more Americans are still detained.

Warmbier, 22, a University of Virginia undergraduate, was convicted and sentenced in a one-hour trial in North Korea's Supreme Court.

Warmbier's release happened the same day Rodman began a visit to the country, but a US State Department source said Rodman had nothing to do with the release. He is now en route to OH where he will be reunited with his family, the State Department said.

His parents Fred and Cindy told CNN earlier this month that they had had no contact with their son for more than a year.

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Warmbier's parents said in a statement that "we have been told that he has been in that condition since March of 2016".

Wright-Patterson officials have not yet confirmed he will be returning at the base.

In a statement, the State Department said Warmbier was "en route to the US where he will be reunited with his family", adding it would have no further comment on his case, citing privacy concerns. "We get to see our son Otto tonight", he told the newspaper. The official said the last instruction Trump gave Tillerson was "Take care of Otto". The official referred to them as "hostages". North Korea, however is known for forcing prisoner's confessions. The North Korean regime should be condemned for Otto's unjust imprisonment.

Fowle said he has some idea of what Warmbier's family is going through. That official traveled to Pyongyang Monday and, upon seeing Warmbier was in a coma, immediately demanded his release. He was evacuated on Tuesday.

He had not been seen in public since his detention, and Swedish diplomats representing US interests - the USA has no diplomatic relations with North Korea - were denied access to Warmbier.

Sullivan released a statement Tuesday afternoon to express the school's support for Warmbier and his family. Rodman starred on Trump's reality TV show Celebrity Apprentice twice, and the two are reportedly good friends.

Since taking office in January, U.S. President Donald Trump has faced a growing national security challenge from North Korea, which has conducted a series of ballistic missile tests in defiance of U.S. and global sanctions.

North Korea has fired 16 missiles in 10 tests this year.

Tillerson said the United States is moving toward taking secondary sanctions on countries cooperating with the North. Such action might be expelling all North Korea diplomats to the U.N. and North Korean U.N. employees for six months.

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