U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced on Tuesday morning that North Korea has released American college student Otto Warmbier. The University of Virginia student is being evacuated through a U.S. military base in Sapporo, Japan, and is expected to return to his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio on Tuesday evening.
Warmbier, 22, is being medically evacuated, as he is said to have been in a coma since his imprisonment in March 2016. The student is believed to have succumbed to botulism shortly after his sentencing and was given a sleeping pill, from which he has yet to wake up.
Tillerson has yet to provide any more information on the subject, stating it is “out of respect for the privacy of Mr. Warmbier and his family.”
Warbier was on a tour through North Korea, with the Chinese-based company Young Pioneer Tours. He is alleged to have entered a staff-only floor in his hotel and stole a propaganda sign.
The Ohio native was detained in Pyongyang, and charged with “carrying out anti-DPRK hostile activities.” His trial, which only lasted one hour, sentenced Warmbier to 15 years of hard labour.
Warmbier was expected to complete an exchange program in Hong Kong, in January of 2016.