University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, who has been detained in North Korea for 17 months, has been medically evacuated from the country in a coma, his parents told The Washington Post Tuesday.
Warmbier, who is 22, is due to arrive home in Cincinnatti on Tuesday evening, having been evacuated through an American military base in Sapporo, Japan.
Warmbier had been in a coma for more than a year, since shortly after his last public appearance: during his trial in Pyongyang in March last year.
“Our son is coming home,” Fred Warmbier told The Washington Post Tuesday morning after Otto had been evacuated from North Korea. “At the moment, we’re just treating this like he’s been in an accident. We get to see our son Otto tonight.”
His release was announced by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington Tuesday morning. Tillerson did not discuss Warmbier’s medical condition.
Warmbier was on a New Year’s Eve tour in North Korea, en route to Hong Kong, where he was to do a January study-abroad trip.
But on his final night in Pyongyang — New Year’s Eve — Warmbier appears to have gone to a staff-only floor of his hotel and attempted to take down a large propaganda sign lauding the regime.