North Korea releases detained American college student

Kim Jong Un.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

North Korea has released jailed University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced Tuesday. Warmbier, an American citizen, was held in North Korea for 17 months after he was arrested in January 2016 at the airport in Pyongyang.

Authorities said they had footage of Warmbier trying to steal a propaganda poster from a hotel. After being found guilty in a trial that lasted just an hour, Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years in prison "with hard labor," The Washington Post reported.

Warmbier's parents confirmed to CNN that their son had been released. "He is being medevacked to the U.S. The brutalization and terrorism the North Koreans have put upon Otto and the Warmbier family have ended. Thank God," they said.

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BBC noted that it was not immediately clear if Warmbier's release was at all connected to former NBA star Dennis Rodman's visit to North Korea, which began Tuesday. Before departing on his trip, Rodman's first to North Korea since President Trump took office, Rodman said that it was not his "purpose right now" to deal with the several U.S. citizens detained in North Korea. He said he was "just trying to open the door" with North Korea.

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