Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that North Korea freed Otto Warmbier, an American student convicted on forced labor for allegedly acting against the state, Fox News writes. Tillerson also announced that Warmbier is on his way to the United States where his family is waiting for him, and how his release was provided by the US State Department, following the instructions of Donald Trump. He also added that three more American prisoners are being released in North Korea, AP reports.

Stealing propaganda material

Otto Frederick Warmbier, a student from the University of Virginia, was arrested on February 2, "while executing an enemy action against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea," the North Korean state news agency KCNA announced in January.

Warmbier was arrested in North Korea at the very end of his five-day tour of the country, and he was stopped by the immigration office at the airport while he was leaving, after which the police arrested him.

Warmbier appeared at a press conference on February 29, on which he admitted the crime of stealing propaganda material, which, he said, "was aimed at harming work ethic and motivation of the North Korean people."

"I am very impressed with the humanitarian relationship of the Korean government to serious criminals like me," the student said in a statement that the television reported. He was sentenced to 15 years of forced labor in March.

According to the Washington Post, Warmbier was infected with botulism after his trial in March 2016 and was prescribed a sleeping medication from which he fell into the coma.

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Parents asked help from the government

Warmbier was recorded by surveillance cameras as he removed the propaganda poster in the hotel corridor where he was staying, Fox News writes. Earlier this year, his parents asked President Trump and his administration to help them in releasing their son.

It is not known whether his release is related to the arrival of US basketball star Dennis Rodman in North Korea. Rodman is a friend of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and has traveled to that East Asian country in 2013 and 2014. Upon arrival, he stressed that he had come to a private visit and that "the goal is actually to see if he could continue to bring sports in North Korea," the BBC reports.

North Korea has a long history of retention of foreign nationals, and it is not an uncommon practice to imprison Americans. North Korea and the United States do not have any formal diplomatic relations.