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etvfutures.com October 18, 2017


USA student's imprisonment in North Korea 'truly awful thing': Donald Trump

19 June 2017, 12:31 | Opal Carroll

Danny Gratton was the only witness to Otto Warmbier's arrest at Pyongyang airport, but the USA government never contacted him. The last such visit is believed to have been in November 2014, when former National Intelligence Director James Clapper brought home two other jailed Americans.

Dennis Rodman has returned from a five-day trip to North Korea, but he did not meet with a man he once called his "friend for life" - Kim Jong Un. The tragedy is the North Korean's did not tell the United States for a full year.

North Korea's top nuclear negotiator Madame Choi Sun Hee has secretly met with USA officials in Pyongyang and European cities to establish a diplomatic channel and orchestrate the release of prisoners, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. US officials have said they believe the killing was state-sanctioned.

Warmbier, 22, spent nearly a year-and-a-half in captivity after being arrested in January 2016.

But upon his release, Warmbier was revealed to have been in a coma since March 2016, a condition that North Korea's government said was due to taking a sleeping pill after he contracted botulism.

What happened next, and how Warmbier ended up in a coma, is still unclear.

Reuters/KyodoOtto Warmbier during his trial in North Korea. But the family has dismissed that explanation.

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Eventually "someone realizes that the worst of all possible worlds is for the guy to die in custody", he said, at which point the North embarked on a flurry of secret diplomatic activity that led to Warmbier's release.

Kim Dong-chul, a 63-year-old former Fairfax County, Va., resident, was arrested in October 2015, a few months before Warmbier, and accused of espionage and subversion.

The release and subsequent controversy over Warmbier's medical condition follows months of heightened tension between the USA and North Korea as a result of Pyongyang's rapidly advancing nuclear and weapons programs. Trump directed him to do everything possible to secure their release, officials said.

"North Korea has a lot of explaining to do".

Although the U.S. policy does not ban its citizen from visiting North Korea, the U.S. State Department strongly advises against it.

Rodman has met Kim on some but not all of his previous trips, and it remains unclear if he met with the leader this time. Over the next days, officials said, Tillerson and Trump discussed the case. I got to know Otto really, really well. "We're trying to open doors between both countries".

Two Americans affiliated with Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, a private institution run by Korean-American Christians, were detained separately in April and May. Yun demanded his release, the White House said.



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