A military airplane carrying Otto Warmbier landed in his hometown of Cincinnati shortly before 10:20 pm (0220 GMT Wednesday), CBS News reported. He had tearfully confessed to trying to steal a propaganda banner while visiting. They say North Koreans told US authorities that their son contracted botulism and never awoke after he was given a sleeping pill.
The State Department secured Warmbier's release at President Donald Trump's direction.
The three other USA citizens detained in North Korea are Kim Hak-song, an agricultural researcher at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology; Tony Kim (aka Kim Sang-duk), an accounting teacher from the same school; and Kim Dong-chul, a businessman. A person who answered the phone at Warmbier's family's OH residence said: "No comment, thank you" and hung up. Joseph Yun, the USA special envoy on North Korea, met with North Korean officials in Oslo in May and reached agreement for Swedish diplomats to visit Warmbier.
Warmbier is a University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati.
Warmbier's father Fred Warmbier told the Washington Post that "our son is coming home". He has said he is just going to have a good time but has also hinted he is "trying to open a door" for better relations between Washington and Pyongyang.
"Since March 2, no one has seen or heard from Otto".
The announcement comes as former National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman is paying a return visit to North Korea.
An American college student has arrived in OH after being released by North Korea, where he was serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor for alleged anti-state acts. For over a year, Warmbier was deprived of his most basic of human rights as the poor student was innocently caught in the cross-hairs of North Korea's continued acts of provocation against the United States.
Otto Warmbier, 23, a student at the University of Virginia, was arrested for stealing a propaganda poster as a tourist in North Korea in January last year and sentenced to 15 years' hard labour after a tearful confession. Worldwide negotiations on the dispute over North Korea's nuclear program have been in limbo for years, as the USA cranks up economic sanctions and North Korea won't give up weapons it considers a guarantee against invasion.
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But North Korea has so far rejected South Korean civic groups' bids to visit the North for exchanges, taking issue with South Korea's support of the latest United Nations sanctions. Rodman told CNN he wasn't there to lobby for the release of any of the four Americans detained in the country. The Warmbiers said they were told their son has remained in a coma since then. "We'll be relieved to have him home and are looking forward to surrounding him with people who love him". A department of state spokeswoman said the former basketball player had nothing to do with Warmbier's release.
While North Korea's move to free Warmbier could potentially provide an opening for talks on security issues, the prospects still appear bleak. His parents say he has been in a coma and was medically evacuated.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, confirmed the release but did not comment on Warmbier's health.
But Mr Tillerson's sanctions threat will up the stakes with China, North Korea's biggest partner, and Russian Federation, the rogue regime's other main supplier.
Warmbier was detained at Pyongyang airport while on his way home to the U.S. in January 2016.
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The three are businessman Kim Dong Chul, arrested in April 2016, and two academics at the Western-funded, private Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, Tony Kim and Kim Hak-Song, arrested in April and May this year.
Three weeks later, North Korea announced it was holding him for a "hostile act" against the state. It is imperative that the State Department continue its efforts to secure their release.