Gordon Chang on Dennis Rodman's diplomacy in N. Korea

Gordon Chang on Dennis Rodman's diplomacy in N. Korea

Otto Warmbier, an American university student held prisoner in North Korea for 17 months and said by his family to be in a coma, has been medically evacuated from the reclusive country after a rare visit there from a high-level official from the United States.

Warmbier, 22, a University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati, arrived in the USA on Tuesday evening, witnesses said.

Warmbier's plane landed at Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport at around 10.15 p.m. local time, according to a Reuters witness.

An airplane carrying Otto Warmbier, who is from OH, landed in Cincinnati late Tuesday night. 'Sadly, he is in a coma and we have been told he has been in that condition since March of 2016, ' the parents said in a statement. Secretary of State Tillerson said on June 13, 2017, that North Korea released the jailed USA university student. He was sentenced to 15 years hard labor, and he had not been seen or heard from since he appeared in a dramatic confession apologizing for "the biggest mistake" of his life.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made no mention of Mr Warmbier's condition in a statement, saying only that he was on his way home to be reunited with his family and would not make any further comment, out of respect for the privacy of the family.

"At the direction of the president, the Department of State has secured the release of Otto Warmbier from North Korea", Tillerson said. North Korea is not to be trusted, either in what it says or what it does. "We learned of this only one week ago", they said.

He was given a sleeping pill after becoming ill after his trial past year and did not wake up, North Korea said.

Republican Senator Rob Portman says North Korea should be "universally condemned for its abhorrent behavior".

Warmbier would have graduated from U.Va. last month had he not been detained.

"For North Korea to imprison Otto with no notification or consular access for more than a year is the utmost example of its complete failure to recognize fundamental human rights and dignity".

Born in Jilin and educated mostly in California, Kim was an ethnic Korean who is believed to have emigrated to the U.S.in the mid-1990s, according to CNN. Joseph Yun, the USA special envoy on North Korea, met with North Korean officials in Oslo in May and reached agreement for Swedish diplomats to visit Warmbier.

Any visit to North Korea by a high-profile American is a political minefield, and Rodman has been criticized for failing to use his influence on leaders who are otherwise isolated diplomatically from the rest of the world. North Korea is expecting another visit by former National Basketball Association bad boy Rodman on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, in what would be his first to the country since President Donald Trump took office. US officials last had consular access to Warmbier on March 2, 2016, through the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, Nauert said. The few reports that exist about the conference said he admitted to bribing North Korean residents for information about Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

A North Korean foreign ministry official said Rodman would stay until Saturday.

Yun was instructed to prepare to travel to Pyongyang with the intention of bringing Warmbier back to the United States.

The news surfaced after the flamboyant retired NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman - a former contestant on Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" reality show - flew to Pyongyang to resume his quixotic quest to broker detente between his U.S. homeland and Kim Jong-Un's authoritarian regime.

Asked if he had spoken to Trump about his trip, he said, "Well, I'm pretty sure he's pretty much happy with the fact that I'm over here trying to accomplish something that we both need".

"Let me reiterate this: We strongly, strongly suggest that Americans do not go to North Korea", said Heather Nauert, State Department spokeswoman.