PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA (CBSMiami) — North Korea released jailed American student Otto Warmbier, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told CBS News.
Warmbier was serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor for allegedly conducting anti-state acts. He was sentenced back in March 2016 after confessing on television to trying to steal a propaganda banner.
He was on his way back to the U.S. to be reunited with his family. His parents say he’s in a coma.
The State Department says they secured Warmbier’s release under the direction of President Trump.
Tillerson said they continue to work on three other detained Americans in North Korea.
The student’s release comes the same day former NBA star Dennis Rodman visited Pyongyang for the first time in Donald Trump’s presidency.
U.S. officials said Rodman did not help or take part in the release of the jailed student.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert declined to provide details on the circumstance of Warmbier’s release or comment on his health condition. But Nauert is firm in stating “Dennis Rodman had nothing to do with the release of Mr. Warmbier.”
She told reporters, “we are grateful and thankful” for Warmbier’s release, but says it is “too soon” to talk about dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea.
Rodman has palled around with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in has last few visits.
As for his current visit, Rodman said he is, “just trying to open a door” on a mission that he thinks his former “Celebrity Apprentice” boss would support.
Rodman has received the red-carpet treatment on four past trips to North Korea since 2013, but has been roundly criticized for visiting during a time of high tensions between the U.S. and North Korea over its weapons programs.