American university student sentenced to 15-year prison term in North Korea arrives back in US

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Associated Press

An American university student whose parents say has been in a coma while serving a 15-year prison term in North Korea was released and returned to the United States today as the Trump administration revealed a rare exchange with the reclusive country.

An airplane carrying Otto Warmbier, who's from Ohio, arrived in Cincinnati today.

Two ambulances were parked near an airport hangar.

Warmbier's release came during a visit to North Korea by former NBA star Dennis Rodman, one of few people to have met both North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.

Department of State spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters Rodman had nothing to do with Warmbier's release.

Rodman had told reporters before arriving in Pyongyang that the issue of Americans detained by North Korea is "not my purpose right now."

Securing Warmbier's release "was a big priority" for President Donald Trump, who worked "very hard and very closely" with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate, was convicted and sentenced in a one-hour trial in North Korea's Supreme Court in March 2016.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labour for subversion after he tearfully confessed that he had tried to steal a propaganda banner.

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