Updated at 12:20 p.m. ET
Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student, who was sentenced last year by North Korea’s Supreme Court to 15 years of prison and hard labor for stealing a propaganda sign from his hotel, has been freed and is on his way to the U.S., Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday.
Warmbier, 22, was medically evacuated from North Korea, his parents told The Washington Post. He is due to return to Cincinnati this evening, they told the newspaper. They said he’d been in a coma for more than a year. Tillerson made no mention of Warmbier’s medical condition.
As I’ve previously written, Warmier, who arrived in North Korea in December 2015 as part of a tour group, was arrested on January 2, 2016, while he was leaving the country. Later that month, North Korean officials said he was detained for “anti-republic activities”—stealing the propaganda sign. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison in March of that year.
He was not seen in public since then. The U.S. has no diplomatic relations with North Korea, and Sweden, which represents U.S. interests in the country, was denied access to Warmbier. His parents told the Post that North Korean officials said he was stricken with botulism soon after his trial, “and had been given a sleeping pill, from which he never woke up.”