Back in January of 2016, an American college student named Otto Warmbier was detained by North Korean officials after allegedly attempting to steal a government propaganda banner while visiting Pyongyang.
In the weeks that followed, Warmbier's family watched in horror as their son tearfully begged for leniency in open court, only to be sentenced to 15 years hard labor by the Kim Jong-Un regime.
This morning, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that Warmbier has been released from prison and will return to the US following a round of successful negotiations with North Korean leaders.
Unfortunately, it's not all good news for Warmbier's long-suffering family back in his native Cincinnatti.
Several news outlets are reporting today that the newly released 22-year-old is in a coma for reasons that remain somewhat unclear.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Warmbier's parents revealed that their son has been in a coma since shortly after his last public appearance in March of 2016.
He is currently being medically evacuated via a US military base in Sapporo, Japan.
“Our son is coming home,” Fred Warmbier told the newspaper.
“At the moment, we’re just treating this like he’s been in an accident. We get to see our son Otto tonight.”
North Korean officials claim that Warmbier came down with botulism shortly after being incarcerated.
He was reportedly given a sleeping pill and never awoke after losing consciousness.
Tillerson made no mention of Warmbier's condition in a statement announcing his relase:
“At the direction of the President, the Department of State has secured the release of Otto Warmbier from North Korea,” Tillerson said.
“Mr. Warmbier is en route to the United States, where he will be reunited with his family.”
Tillerson stated that he will not comment further “out of respect for the privacy of Mr. Warmbier and his family.”
The news of Warmbier's release comes on the heels of reports that former NBA star Dennis Rodman will soon head to North Korea on a diplomatic visit.
Rodman has met with Kim Jong-Un in the past and has stated that he considers the dictator a friend.
We'll have further updates on this developing story as more information becomes available.