Domingo, 19 Agosto, 2018

US State Secretary: North Korea Frees American Citizen

Irune Rengel | 14 Junio, 2017, 10:52

South Korea on Wednesday welcomed the release of an American college student long detained in North Korea and vowed efforts to free its own citizens held in the communist country.

North Korea has released American college student Otto Warmbier, who is on his way back to the US and won't be forced to serve a 15-year prison term, according to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Warmbier was serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor in North Korea for alleged anti-state acts.

"The release is very welcome". He said Warmbier, of Cincinnati, was en route to the U.S. Yun met North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations on June 6 and was told about Warmbier's condition, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

They also said they are grateful Mr Warmbier "will finally be with people who love him".

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Warmbier was one of four Americans detained in North Korea.

Three other American citizens are being detained in North Korea, at a time when Kim Jong Un has been firing missiles and threatening to strike the United States. At the meeting, North Korea agreed that Swedish diplomats could visit all four American detainees. He told reporters in Beijing, as he departed for Pyongyang, that he hopes his trip will "open a door" for Trump. The Warmbiers said they were told their son has remained in a coma since then. When the Swedes finally got the okay to visit, the North Koreans immediately asked for a meeting with Joe Yun, the U.S. envoy in NY, when he was told about Otto Warmbier's condition.

In Warmbier's hometown of Wyoming, just outside of Cincinnati, residents helped tie blue and white ribbons, Wyoming High School's colors, to trees and said news of his release had sent waves of shock and joy through the community.

Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement to The Associated Press that they have been told their son has been in a coma since March 2016, and they had learned of this only one week ago.

In Seoul, South Korea, U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon said "we pray for him and we pray for his family".

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There is no clear sign that the former National Basketball Association bad boy will meet leader Kim Jong Un, as he did on previous visits to the isolated country. North Korea is expecting another visit by Rodman on Tuesday in what would be his firs.

The White House says a US envoy met with North Korean foreign ministry representatives in Norway last month as part of efforts to win freedom for Americans held by Pyongyang.

They say that Otto Warmbier is on a Medivac flight on his way home.

There was no immediate confirmation from USA officials of North Korea's description of his illness - including whether he was stricken with botulism, a potentially fatal disease that is caused by a toxin but is not usually associated with loss of consciousness.

Warmbier's release came as former US 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. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labour for subversion as he tearfully confessed that he had tried to steal a propaganda banner.

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Tillerson did not elaborate on Warmbier's current health condition, and said he would not be offering additional comment out of respect for the family's privacy. A 2009 visit by former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, secured the freedom of American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling.

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