Otto Warmbier's release from North Korea: A timeline

The news surfaced after the flamboyant retired NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman - a former contestant on Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" reality show - flew to Pyongyang to resume his quixotic quest to broker detente between his United States homeland and Kim Jong-Un's authoritarian regime.

Yun was under orders, which the official said came directly from Trump, to demand to see Warmbier immediately, and, "if he was in bad shape", to demand his immediate release and evacuation on the plane's return flight to the United States.

In a tearful statement made before his trial, Warmbier told a gathering of reporters in Pyongyang he was offered a used vehicle worth $10,000 if he could get a propaganda banner and was also told that if he was detained and didn't return, $200,000 would be paid to his mother in the form of a charitable donation. However, nothing should be read into this coincidence, given the timeline of theTrump administration's own prior initiatives leading to the release.

It's not clear if he was forced to speak by the North Koreans.

Such direct consultations between the two governments are rare. Three other US citizens are believed to still be in North Korean custody.

The detention of Americans, often sentenced to draconian prison sentences for seemingly small offenses in the totalitarian nation, has compounded tensions between Washington and Pyongyang. But the nation still has three more Americans in its jails.

Warmbier is escorted to his March 2016 trial in Pyongyang, North Korea, at which he was sentenced to 15 years in prison and hard labor.

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.

The plane carrying Otto Warmbier has landed in Cincinnati, Ohio, local media reported later the same day. Mr Warmbier's family said in a statement that he is in a coma and on his way home.

Since March past year, Otto Warmbier was in a coma. His release brings the number of USA citizens known to be in detention in the hermetic communist dictatorship down to three. US officials in touch with Yun and medical personnel declined to say whether Warmbier remains in a coma or to make any comment on his current medical condition.

Tillerson indicated on Tuesday that Washington is looking for new ways to increase pressure on Pyongyang, telling senators that the White House is considering whether to impose "secondary sanctions" on third countries that do business with North Korea.

"We want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalised and terrorised by the pariah regime", his parents, Fred and Cindy, said.

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They also said they are grateful he "will finally be with people who love him". The State Department said President Trump had been consulted.

"It wasn't a situation where they asked", one official said of the USA representatives. Richardson has played a role in past negotiations with North Korea.

A White House official says the May meeting in Oslo was attended by Joseph Yun, the US envoy to North Korea.

The official, who was not authorized to speak on the record about the sequence of events and requested anonymity, said that after Tillerson consulted with Trump, Yun was dispatched to North Korea. Yun and two physicians flew to Pyongyang and visited Warmbier on Monday. He was evacuated on Tuesday.

Sen. Rob Portman of OH said in a statement that Tillerson had confirmed to him Warmbier's release.

His four past trips in 2013 and 2014 generated a storm of publicity, most of it unfavorable, and did little in terms of diplomacy.

And an upcoming cross-border visit by North Korean taekwondo athletes is expected to further fuel optimism.

Rodman's current trip is his first since Trump, his former "Celebrity Apprentice" boss, became president.

Nearly immediately on taking office in January, Trump and his team - having been briefed by outgoing leader Barack Obama - declared the North's attempts to build, test and arm a nuclear-capable ballistic missile to be Washington's biggest threat. But Rodman, who has visited with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said the issue of four Americans detained by the North is "not my goal right now". A 2009 visit by former President Bill Clinton secured the freedom of American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling.

Kim Dong-chul, who emigrated to the United States in 1972, was charged with plotting to subvert the DPRK system, slandering the country's leadership and gathering state and military secrets when he was on trial in April, 2016 and sentenced to 10 years of hard labor.

The university said in a statement that Kim, also known by the Chinese version of his name Jin Xue Song, was apprehended after concluding a trip to carry out "agricultural development work" at the school's "experimental farm".

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