Otto Warmbier, Jailed American Student, Released by North Korea

American student Otto Warmbier, center, is escorted at the Supreme Court in Pyongyang, North Korea / AP
June 13, 2017

Otto Warmbier, the American college student who has been detained in North Korea for 17 months, has been released by Pyongyang.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced Warmbier's release on Tuesday morning.

"At the direction of the president, the Department of State has secured the release of Otto Warmbier from North Korea," Tillerson said in a statement. "Mr. Warmbier is en route to the United States where he will be reunited with his family."

Warmbier was medically evacuated from the country in a coma, according to the Washington Post.

Warmbier, a University of Virginia undergraduate student, was visiting North Korea last year when he was arrested for taking a propaganda poster from his hotel as he was attempting to leave the country as planned. He was arrested by North Korean authorities and later shown on video giving a tearful confession in March 2016. North Korea's highest court sentenced him to 15 years in prison with hard labor for subversion.

Warmbier will be reunited with his family upon his return to the U.S. He is expected to arrive in Cincinnati on Tuesday evening.

"Our son is coming home," Fred Warmbier told the Post after Otto had left North Korea. "At the moment, we're just treating this like he's been in an accident. We get to see our son Otto tonight."

News of Warmbier's release came as former NBA player Dennis Rodman is currently visiting North Korea, which he has done before. Rodman is known to be a friend of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Rodman told reporters that he was not planning on discussing captive Americans with anyone in North Korea.

It is believed that there are at least three other Americans still being held in North Korea.