Rodman begins sightseeing on NKorea trip he hopes opens door

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

"Otto has been terrorized and brutalized for 18 months by a pariah regime in North Korea", the father said in an interview scheduled to air Thursday night. He was sentenced to 15 years with hard labor after an hour-long trial.

In rare high-level contacts, Yun met senior North Korean officials in Oslo in May, where it was agreed Swedish officials in Pyongyang, who handle U.S. consular affairs there, would be allowed to see all four American detainees, a State Department official said.

Tillerson says the State Department continues discussing three other detained Americans with North Korea.

USA officials refused to comment on Warmbier's condition, but former ambassador and New Mexico governor Bill Richardson said he had spoken with the family.

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

Since taking office in January, U.S. President Donald Trump has faced growing tensions with North Korea, which has conducted a series of ballistic missile tests in defiance of U.S. and worldwide sanctions.

Pictures showed a man in a blue t-shirt, believed to be Warmbier, being carried from the plane.

They were quoted by the Washington Post as saying they had been told Otto had contracted botulism, a rare illness that causes paralysis, soon after his trial in March 2016. He said he is "just trying to open a door" on a mission that he thinks his former "Celebrity Apprentice" boss would support.

Warmbier left North Korea on the same day that former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman came to the country for the fifth time.

Warmbier was serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor in North Korea for alleged anti-state acts. The 22-year-old was then taken by ambulance to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

The 22-year-old student from the University of Virginia has been in a state of coma for more than a year after contracting botulism soon after he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in a trial by the DPRK supreme court on March 16, 2016, according to US local media.

The US has in the past accused North Korea of detaining its citizens to use them as pawns in negotiations over its nuclear weapons programme.

Warmbier was arrested in Pyongyang in January 2016, while visiting the country on a group tour.

During his 18-month incarceration, the Warmbiers have only heard from Otto once - through a letter on March 2, 2016.

Warmbier's parents said in a statement to The Associated Press that they had learned only a week ago that their son has been in a coma since March 2016. "North Korea is persecuting their savior, a person who came to help them".

A hospital spokeswoman says Warmbier's family is expected to hold a news conference Thursday morning at Wyoming High School.

The North Korean court held that Warmbier had committed a crime "pursuant to the USA government's hostile policy toward (the North), in a bid to impair the unity of its people after entering it as a tourist".

"Fred, Cindy, and the Warmbier family have been remarkably strong throughout this ordeal".

Sen. Rob Portman of OH said in a statement that Tillerson had confirmed to him Warmbier's release.

"This system imposes unduly harsh sentences for actions that would not be considered crimes in the United States and threatens US citizen detainees with being treated in accordance with 'wartime law of the DPRK'".

To celebrate Kim's 30th birthday in 2014, Rodman brought a group of former National Basketball Association players to compete against a North Korean team.

He, added: "North Korea should be universally condemned for its abhorrent behaviour".

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