Coma-stricken student released from North Korea arrives back in US

Otto Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years hard labor in 2016.

ByABC News
June 13, 2017, 10:37 PM

— -- The American college student in a coma who was released from North Korea, landed in Cincinnati, Ohio, Tuesday night, ABC has confirmed.

He was slated to be transported by ambulance to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

A family statement released earlier Tuesday said they learned of his coma recently. "We learned of this only one week ago," the statement reads. "We want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime in North Korea. We are so grateful that he will finally be with people who love him," a family statement realeased earlier Tuesday read.

University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier was sentenced in 2016 to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea after being accused of attempting to steal a propaganda poster from his Pyongyang hotel while visiting the country.

His release was confirmed by the U.S. State Department.

"At the direction of the president, the Department of State has secured the release of Otto Warmbier from North Korea," the department announced in a statement attributed to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

"The Department of State continues to have discussions with the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] regarding three other U.S. citizens reported detained," the statement said.

An administration official told ABC News that Tillerson called President Donald Trump at 8:35 a.m. ET to inform him that Warmbier was on a plane en route to the United States. The official said the last instruction Trump gave Tillerson was to "take care of Otto."

Warmbier was visiting North Korea as part of a tourist group arranged by Young Pioneer Tours, based in Xian, China. He was arrested on Jan. 2, 2016, at Pyongyang Sunan International Airport on the last day of a five-day tour.

Three weeks later, North Korea announced it was holding him for a "hostile act" against the state.

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