DPRK – An American student imprisoned in the DPRK has been released by officials and is on his way back home in Cincinnati, Ohio, according to the US secretary of state. The parents of Otto Warmbier claim they have been told that he is currently in a coma. They said he is travelling by a “Medivac flight on his way home.”
Warmbier, 22, was arrested by DPRK authorities on 2 January 2016 while he was touring with the company Young Pioneer Tours. He was arrested for attempting to steal a propaganda poster which was caught on CCTV. Once placed on trial he pled guilty to the charge. He was sentenced to 15 years hard labour.
He confessed that he had stolen the poster to take home as a “trophy” for a church. His court statement said, “the aim of my task was to harm the motivation and work ethic of the Korean people”. His parents claim that he made the confession under duress.
Reports say that Warmbier went into a coma due to the contraction of botulism, a rare illness that can cause paralysis. Reportedly he contracted not long after his trial, around March 2016.
The Washington post claims that he was given a sleeping pill, and has been in the coma ever since. US secretary of state Rex Tillerson added nothing about Warmbier’s condition. He also declined to comment on any further aspect of his release.
The DPRK is known to impose strict punishments on foreigners, particularly Americans who commit crimes in the country. The actions by such foreigners are said to be an insult to the country which has allowed them the privilege to visit.