North Korea releases US citizen Otto Warmbier

American student Otto Warmbier, center, is escorted at the Supreme Court in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. North Korea's highest court sentenced Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student, from Wyoming, Ohio, to 15 years in prison with hard labor on Wednesday for subversion. He allegedly attempted to steal a propaganda banner from a restricted area of his hotel at the request of an acquaintance who wanted to hang it in her church. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)

WASHINGTON (AP) – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that North Korea has released Otto Warmbier, an American serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor for alleged anti-state acts.

Tillerson says that Warmbier is on his way back to the U.S. to be re-united with his family. He says in a statement that the State Department secured Warmbier’s release at the direction of President Donald Trump. Tillerson says the State Department continues discussing three other detained Americans with North Korea.

The announcement comes as former NBA player Dennis Rodman is paying a return visit to North Korea.

Warmbier is a University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati. He was sentenced in March 2016 after a televised tearful public confession to trying to steal a propaganda banner.

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