Otto Warmbier was released from a North Korean prison on Tuesday and is currently being transported back to the United States, according to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The former American student was arrested and detained in January of 2016 for allegedly committing a “hostile act” while touring the volatile country. According to reports, the former University of Virginia student attempted to steal a political banner.
During a subsequent press conference, which was arranged by North Korean officials, Otto Warmbier confessed to “taking out a political slogan from the staff-only area of the Yanggakdo International Hotel.” He also claimed that several American organizations, including the Friendship United Methodist Church and the “Z Society,” encouraged him to commit the crime.
As reported by the Cavalier Daily, Warmbier made the same confession during his criminal trial. Although it is unclear whether he was coerced, the confession secured a criminal conviction on charges of subversion. The former student was sentenced to serve 15 years of hard labor in a North Korean prison.
More than one year after his arrest, Fred and Cindy Warmbier pleaded with President Donald Trump to negotiate their son’s release. In a May 2017 interview with Fox News, Fred alleged the Obama administration “urged” he and his wife “to keep quiet” about their son’s detention and any efforts to secure his release.
Fred and Cindy said they were not allowed any contact with their son following his arrest. The last time they saw Otto was during his confession, which was broadcast by North Korean authorities in January of 2016.
This week, the Warmbier’s were contacted by United States officials who confirmed their son is being released from the North Korean prison and returned home. However, the news was bittersweet.
As reported by the Washington Post, Fred and Cindy were also notified that their son is in a coma. North Korean officials claim Otto Warmbier “fell ill from botulism sometime after his March trial and fell into a coma after taking a sleeping pill.” According to reports, the former University of Virginia student has been in a coma for over one year.
— CNN (@CNN) June 13, 2017
The Warmbiers said they were devastated to learn their son is in a coma. However, they are overjoyed that he was released and is being transported back to the United States.
— ABC News (@ABC) June 13, 2017
At this time, it is unclear whether Otto Warmbier is expected to recover from his illness.
[Featured Image by Anton Watman/Shutterstock]