USA citizen was detained in North Korea for pro-West material

U.S. officials then urged those with the ability to persuade Pyongyang to ratchet up the pressure to get him released, said a source, who is familiar with the government's efforts.

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 USA official.

The University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati who publicly confessed to trying to steal a propaganda banner left North Korea on Tuesday morning, a foreign ministry official confirmed.

Lee said South Korea is also making efforts to seek the release of its own citizens now held in North Korea.

Surrounded by North Korean guards, Warmbier delivered a highly scripted "confession" that appeared to have been written for him, and after an hour-long sham trial in March 2016, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor. There, North Korean officials told Yun about Warmbier's condition.

On Tuesday, South Korean military officials told reporters that a North Korean drone found last week had taken photographs of a recently installed, USA -made anti-missile system.

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The United States had accused the North of using Warmbier as a political pawn, and condemned the sentence as far out of proportion to his alleged crime. Pyongyang assented, and preparations were made to bring Warmbier home.

Tillerson called Trump at 8:35 a.m. Tuesday to inform him that Warmbier was on an airplane en route to the United States, an official said.

In Tokyo, a visiting senior US official said Rodman is making the trip as a private citizen.

A senior United States official said they had received worrying reports on his condition in a North Korean gulag, which prompted talks to bring him home immediately.

"We want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime" in North Korea, Warmbier's parents said.

Mr. Rodman is a Hall of Fame professional basketball player who formed a personal relationship with the diminutive North Korean dictator Kim several years ago, traveling to North Korea to give basketball demonstrations.

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Why is Dennis Rodman in Pyongyang? The North Koreans agreed and he was flown out on Tuesday, the official said. It's safe to say it stands up half-a-decade later.

"I'm just here to see some friends and have a good time", he said. In a statement confirming Warmbier's homecoming, his parents said they were told their son had been comatose since March 2016, the month he was convicted.

Tensions have heightened on the Korean peninsula over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests and its vow to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland, presenting U.S. President Donald Trump with perhaps his most pressing security worry. "I've not spoken with Dennis Rodman".

Three other Americans are there in the custody of the North Korean government.

Who else is detained in North Korea? Its opaque regime expresses its will through vast totalitarian spectacles and brazen, clandestine assassinations. Citing the prisoner's Facebook page, the Times reported that Kim studied accounting at the University of California, Riverside and Aurora University, and spent about a decade working as an accountant in the US before returning to Asia. North Korea accuses Washington and South Korea of sending spies to overthrow its government.

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. On Monday, Trump was pilloried by the media as he presided over a Cabinet meeting that ended with each of his lieutenants sitting around the table taking turns to praise and thank the president.

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The Warmbier family released a statement Tuesday saying they are grateful their son will finally be home with the people who love him.

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