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Dennis Rodman takes credit for Otto Warmbier's release: NBA star returns from North Korea claiming he got 'tortured' American freed and 'didn't know the fatally-ill student was sick'

Parents of US student Otto Warmbier, 22, lash brutal N. Korean regime as their son dies, six days after being brought home in a coma after 17 months in prison for stealing a propaganda poster

  • Retired basketball star Dennis Rodman returned from a 5-day trip to North Korea
  • Rodman arrived in North Korea same day Pyongyang released Otto Warmbier
  • In interview with ABC, Rodman says he urged North Korea to free Warmbier 
  • Warmbier was in comatose state when he landed in Ohio on June 13
  • The college student died Monday, prompting suspicion Pyongyang tortured him
  • Rodman also says 'his friend' North Korean ruler Kim Jong-Un is misunderstood 

Retired basketball legend Dennis Rodman is claiming credit Friday for the release of American college student Otto Warmbier from a North Korean prison last week.

Rodman told ABC’s Good Morning America that he did not know Warmbier, who died this past Monday, was sick when authorities in Pyongyang freed him from custody.

The NBA Hall of Famer's agent, Chris Volo, says he personally lobbied the Pyongyang government on Rodman's behalf for Warmbier's return home.

‘I asked on behalf of Dennis for his release three times,’ Volo tells ABC News. 

'I know being there had something to do with it,' Volo said. ‘Because when I was organizing the trip... and I meet with the delegates here, you know, I addressed... Otto Warmbier. And I said to them, “we... would need his... you know, a release, some type of good faith, if we're ever going to do some type of future sports relations”. 

‘They said they understood.’ 

Both the State Department and Warmbier's father, Fred, both deny Rodman played any role in Otto Warmbier's freedom.

Retired basketball legend Dennis Rodman is claiming credit Friday for the release of American college student Otto Warmbier from a North Korean prison last week

Retired basketball legend Dennis Rodman is claiming credit Friday for the release of American college student Otto Warmbier from a North Korean prison last week

Rodman (seen left alongside his agent, Chris Volo) arrived in North Korea on the same day Warmbier was handed over to the US in a comatose state. ¿I asked on behalf of Dennis for his release three times,¿ Volo tells ABC News. 'I know being there had something to do with it'

Rodman (seen left alongside his agent, Chris Volo) arrived in North Korea on the same day Warmbier was handed over to the US in a comatose state. ‘I asked on behalf of Dennis for his release three times,’ Volo tells ABC News. 'I know being there had something to do with it'

‘Dennis Rodman had nothing to do with Otto returning to the United States,’ Fred Warmbier told GMA. 

Warmbier was laid to rest in Wyoming, Ohio, on Thursday.

Rodman revealed Friday that he reached out to the Warmbier family in a bid to arrange a meeting, but was rebuffed. 

‘I was just so happy to see the kid released,’ Rodman told GMA co-host Michael Strahan of his initial reaction when he learned Warmbier was going home.

'Later that day, that's when we found out he was ill, no one knew that.'

The University of Virginia student is thought to have been in a coma since he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for stealing a propaganda poster in March 2016. He is seen above in Pyongyang in this February 29, 2016 file photo

The University of Virginia student is thought to have been in a coma since he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for stealing a propaganda poster in March 2016. He is seen above in Pyongyang in this February 29, 2016 file photo

While Rodman suggested that he played a role in Warmbier¿s release, both the State Department and the student¿s father said this was not true. Warmbier is seen above on June 13 landing in Cincinnati. He died this past Monday from a neurological condition

While Rodman suggested that he played a role in Warmbier’s release, both the State Department and the student’s father said this was not true. Warmbier is seen above on June 13 landing in Cincinnati. He died this past Monday from a neurological condition

Warmbier's casket is carried from Wyoming High School after his funeral on Thursday in Wyoming, Ohio

Warmbier's casket is carried from Wyoming High School after his funeral on Thursday in Wyoming, Ohio

Rodman arrived in North Korea on Monday, June 12, the same day Warmbier was released in a comatose state.

Warmbier, 22, died in an Ohio hospital on Monday after North Korea freed him for what it called humanitarian reasons.

Doctors at the hospital said he had suffered a severe neurological injury from an unknown cause.

North Korea on Friday denied torturing Warmbier in the first official reaction since the University of Virginia student died after returning home in a coma.

The hermit state broke its silence after South Korea said the North bore responsibility for Warmbier's fate and President Donald Trump slammed his detention and death as 'a total disgrace'.

The University of Virginia student is thought to have been in a coma since he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for stealing a propaganda poster in March 2016. 

Rodman says he wanted to 'give all the prayer and love' to the Warmbiers. 

Rodman also reveals to GMA on Friday that during this most recent five-day trip, he did not meet North Korean ruler Kim Jong-Un. Still, Rodman says that Kim is a personal friend of his ¿ so much so that the two men spend quality time together. 'We sing karaoke,' Rodman says

Rodman also reveals to GMA on Friday that during this most recent five-day trip, he did not meet North Korean ruler Kim Jong-Un. Still, Rodman says that Kim is a personal friend of his – so much so that the two men spend quality time together. 'We sing karaoke,' Rodman says

His earlier visits to North Korea in 2013 and 2014 included a basketball game that he organized, an event chronicled in the documentary film ¿Big Bang in Pyongyang¿, which featured Rodman singing ¿Happy Birthday¿ to Kim

His earlier visits to North Korea in 2013 and 2014 included a basketball game that he organized, an event chronicled in the documentary film ‘Big Bang in Pyongyang’, which featured Rodman singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Kim

Rodman has faced ridicule and criticism for his trips to North Korea, which some US politicians and activists view as serving only as fodder for North Korean propaganda. Rodman is seen above with North Korean schoolchildren during his most recent trip

Rodman has faced ridicule and criticism for his trips to North Korea, which some US politicians and activists view as serving only as fodder for North Korean propaganda. Rodman is seen above with North Korean schoolchildren during his most recent trip

When asked about Otto Warmbier’s state, Rodman says: ‘I didn’t know he was sick.’

Volo says that Rodman reached out to Warmbier’s family in hopes of arranging a meeting. 

‘But we were told that, you know, it just couldn’t happen,’ the agent says. 

Rodman also reveals to GMA on Friday that during this most recent five-day trip, he did not meet North Korean ruler Kim Jong-Un. 

‘The previous times we did,’ Rodman says. 

‘I think the fact that, you know, my trips going up to North Korea is more like trying... to get to communicate sports-wise. It ain't about trying to release people. 

‘It's not trying to do... political stuff. It's almost just trying to reach out for sports and see if I can bring sports to North Korea,’ Rodman said. 

Rodman has faced ridicule and criticism for his trips to North Korea, which some US politicians and activists view as serving only as fodder for North Korean propaganda.

His earlier visits to North Korea in 2013 and 2014 included a basketball game that he organized, an event chronicled in the documentary film ‘Big Bang in Pyongyang’, which featured Rodman singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Kim. 

The US government has issued travel warnings to Americans against going to North Korea. 

Despite the Kim government’s record of rampant human rights abuses, Rodman says that the North Korean ruler and his country are widely misunderstood. 

‘We've seen a lot of changes [to the country],’ Rodman says on Friday. 

North Korea ‘is so modernized now,’ according to the retired power forward. 

‘When you go over there, and you hear the radio, and... people are talking,’ Rodman said. They're so happy now, because it's more like... it's civilized again.’ 

Rodman and his agent, Volo, were spotted in New York City on Friday

Rodman and his agent, Volo, were spotted in New York City on Friday

Dennis Rodman and an unidentified companion in New York
Dennis Rodman and an unidentified companion in New York

The Worm was accompanied by an unidentified woman

Rodman says that Kim is a personal friend of his – so much so that the two men spend quality time together. 

'We sing karaoke,' Rodman said. ‘It's all fun. Ride horses, everything.'

‘I think people don't see him as... a friendly guy [but] if you actually talk to him’ people would see a different side, Rodman says. 

The former hoops star says he believes Trump, whom he supported, should join him in making peace with North Korea.

‘It's the politics that's the bad thing. If we can try to figure something out, just open the door,' Rodman says. 

‘If Donald Trump had a chance, [he would fly to North Korea] and try to make peace.’

‘I'll ask him right now. Donald, come talk to me. Let's try to work this out. Because you know what? I get nothing out of this. The only thing I get is out of pride for my country, America. I love America,’ Rodman said. 

‘But I want these two sides to get together and try to figure something out. Some dialogue. That's it.’ 

Rodman says he is planning to once again travel to North Korea in August. 

He tells GMA that on one occasion, Kim asked Rodman to relay a message to former President Barack Obama. 

Rodman says Kim told him to tell Obama to ‘move his ships.’ 

‘He said, “There's just one thing I, I, would love for... Obama to do”,’ Rodman said of his conversation with Kim. 

‘He said, “I would love him if he can move his ships...away a little bit”. 

‘That's the one thing he asked me. He said, “If he can do that, I think we can have some new positive”.’

Rodman denies accusations that his trips to North Korea are aimed at generating publicity. 

‘I don't need to be on TV,’ Rodman says. 

‘What am I getting out of this? I'm going over there out of my kindness of my heart just to try to help. Just to open the door... a little bit so we can have [a] talk,’ Rodman said. 

‘I'm spending hundreds of dollars just to go over there to try to just open the door a little bit,’ he said. 

Rodman, nicknamed ‘The Worm’ during his playing career and known for his tattoos, body piercings and multicolored hair, is considered one of the best defensive players and rebounders in NBA history. 

He won five league championships with the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Otto Warmbier (pictured in custody in Pyongyang last January) died Monday just days after being brought back to the United States in a coma from North Korea

  • Otto Warmbier died in hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, at 2.20pm on Monday 
  • The 22-year-old was arrested and imprisoned in North Korea in January 2016 
  • He spent nearly 18 months in custody before being released last week 
  • He returned to the US in a coma after being 'brutalised' while in custody 
  • His family announced his death in a statement saying he had 'completed his journey home' 
  • President Trump shared his condolences for the Warmbier family as he described Otto as North Korea's 'latest victim' 
  • He said the student's death 'deepens' his determination to stop regimes that 'that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency' 

Otto Warmbier has died six days after being brought back to the United States in a coma from North Korea.
The 22-year-old was returned to his family in Cincinnati, Ohio, on June 13 after spending 17 months in North Korea where he was arrested as a student for stealing a propaganda poster in January 2016.


He returned in a vegetative state, unable to communicate with his family and with devastating brain loss. North Korean authorities dubiously blamed his condition on a bout of food poisoning which they said he suffered while imprisoned and released him on 'humanitarian grounds'.
On Monday, his family announced his death, laying the blame for it squarely with Kim Jong Un and his regime.


'The awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today,' Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement.
President Trump shared his condolences with the family immediately, describing their son as 'North Korea's latest victim'.

American jailed in North Korea dies six days after return home
Otto Warmbier (pictured in custody in Pyongyang last January) died Monday just days after being brought back to the United States in a coma from North Korea

Otto Warmbier (pictured ashe was taken in to custody in Pyongyang last January) has died days after being brought back to the United States in a coma from North Korea

The 22-year-old was carried off a private plane last week after touching down in Cincinnati to be reunited with his family 17 months after he was jailed. He returned in an almost vegetative state and had suffered extensive brain loss 

The 22-year-old was carried off a private plane last week after touching down in Cincinnati to be reunited with his family 17 months after he was jailed. He returned in an almost vegetative state and had suffered extensive brain loss 

'When Otto returned to Cincinnati late on June 13th, he was unable to speak, unable to see and unable to react to verbal commands. 

'He looked very uncomfortable - almost anguished. Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day the countenance on his face changed - he was at peace. He was home and we believe he could sense that.

'We thank everyone around the world who has kept him and our family in their thoughts and prayers. We are at peace and at home too,' they said.  

Otto was a student at the University of Virginia when he traveled in a group to Pyongyang. 

The Warmbier family said the 'torturous mistreatment he received made no other outcome possible'

The Warmbier family said the 'torturous mistreatment he received made no other outcome possible'

As he attempted to leave the country to return home on January 2, he was arrested and detained at the airport.

North Korean authorities accused him of committing a hostile act against the country by stealing a propaganda poster from the hotel he was staying in. 

He was kept there after giving a tearful press conference and was not seen again until last week when he was carried off a private medical plane upon his return to the US. 

His family, aghast at his condition, swiftly spoke out against North Korea at a press conference. 

Doctors gave bleak prognosis for the promising young man. 

In their statement on Monday, they said: 'It would be easy at a moment like this to focus on all that we lost - future time that won't be spent with a warm, engaging, brilliant young man whose curiosity and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds. 

'But we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person. 

'You can tell from the outpouring of emotion from the communities that he touched - Wyoming, Ohio and the University of Virginia to name just two - that the love for Otto went well beyond his immediate family.

'We would like to thank the wonderful professionals at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who did everything they could for Otto,' they said.   

Donald Trump posted this on Twitter on Monday night after the news emerged

Donald Trump posted this on Twitter on Monday night after the news emerged

After returning to the US last week, Otto was taken straight to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center (pictured). He died there on Monday afternoon 

After returning to the US last week, Otto was taken straight to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in his home state of Ohio (above). He died there on Monday afternoon 

In this video, taken days before he was arrested on January 2, 2016, the student is seen throwing snowballs with the group he was traveling with 

In this video, taken days before he was arrested on January 2, 2016, the student is seen throwing snowballs with the group he was traveling with 

Ex-North Korea detainee Otto Warmbier returns to the USA

WARMBIER FAMILY STATEMENT  

It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home. Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died today at 2.20pm.

It would be easy at a moment like this to focus on all that we lost - future time that won't be spent with a warm, engaging, brilliant young man whose curiosity and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds. But we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person. 

'You can tell from the outpouring of emotion from the communities that he touched - Wyoming, Ohio and the University of Virginia to name just two - that the love for Otto went well beyond his immediate family.

'We would like to thank the wonderful professionals at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center whodid everything they could for Otto. Unfortunately, the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today.

'When Otto returned to Cincinnati late on June 13th, he was unable to speak, unable to see and unable to react to verbal commands. He looked very uncomfortable - almost anguished. Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day the countenance on his face changed - he was at peace.

'He was home and we believe he could sense that. We thank everyone around the world who has kept him and our family in their thoughts and prayers.

'We are at peace and at home too.'

Otto's father Fred said last week that his son had been 'brutalised' in North Korea as he spoke at a press conference in Cincinnati (pictured) 

Otto's father Fred said last week that his son had been 'brutalised' in North Korea as he spoke at a press conference in Cincinnati (pictured) 

Upon his release, North Korean officials blamed his condition on botulism -  a severe form of food poisoning which they said he contracted while in their custody. 

The man's father rejected the claim, blaming his almost vegetative state on how it treated him.

'There's no excuse for the way the North Koreans treated our son and the way they have treated so many others,' Fred Warmbier fumed. 

 There is nothing more tragic for a parent than to lose a child in the prime of life
President Trump  

Doctors who spoke at a separate press conference said the saw no signs he had ever suffered botulism, as claimed by North Korean doctors who sent a disc containing two MRI scans of his body back with him on the private medical plane.

The scans - taken in April and July 2016 - gave no suggestion of trauma such as broken bones but Otto's medical records led the US physicians to believe he had suffered a heart attack. 

The doctors refused to speculate on what may have prompted a heart attack in an otherwise healthy 21-year-old man at their press conference.

In a statement released on Monday afternoon, President Trump said: 'Melania and I offer our deepest condolences to the family of Otto Warmbier on his untimely passing. 

Vice President Pence shared his condolences for the family on Twitter 

Vice President Pence shared his condolences for the family on Twitter 

'There is nothing more tragic for a parent than to lose a child in the prime of life. Our thoughts and prayers are with Otto's family and friends and all who loved him.

'Otto's fate deepens my administration's determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency.

'The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim.' 

Vice President Pence said his death served as a 'tragic example' of the country's 'disregard for human life.'  

A video taken days before his arrest was released by his devastated family last week. It showed him throwing snowballs with his friends, oblivious to the bleak fate which awaited him. 

2016: Otto Warmbier breaks down in court before 15 year sentence
President Trump (above with the first lady on Monday) shared his condolences with the Warmbier family after learning of Otto's death and said it deepened his determination to rein in the North Korean regime

President Trump (above with the first lady on Monday) shared his condolences with the Warmbier family after learning of Otto's death and said it deepened his determination to rein in the North Korean regime

The student's release was overseen by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and President Trump who shared his well-wishes for the family after Otto's return.

On Monday, the president was hosting a summit for technology business leaders when he received news of Otto's death.  

He responded to it by telling a round-table discussion that North Korea was a 'brutal regime' but one which the US could 'handle', CBS reported. 

Fox claims he also said somberly: 'At least we got him home.'  

In return, he was praised by the Warmbier family who complained about being told by the Obama administration to stay quiet and let them gently negotiate his release. 

'When Otto was first taken, we were advised by the past administration to take a low profile while they worked to obtain his release. 

'We did so without result. Earlier this year, Cindy and I decided the time for strategic patience was over. It is my understanding that [Special Representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Y. Yun] and his team, at the direction of the president, aggressively pursued resolution of the situation,' Fred Warmbier said last week.  

Warmbier's release last week coincided with a bizarre visit to North Korea by actor Dennis Rodman. 

There were loose suggestions the trip was an attempt by North Korean officials to distract from Warmbier's condition. 

Rodman, who wore a t-shirt emblazoned with a caricature of himself and the words 'Ambassador Rodman' on the front, has not commented on Warmbier's death. 

Doctors at a press conference in Cincinnati last week were aghast at the condition Otto had been returned in by the North Korea regime

Doctors at a press conference in Cincinnati last week were aghast at the condition Otto had been returned in by the North Korea regime

The Warmbier family and doctors in the US have both denied the North Koreans' claims that Otto slipped in to a coma as the result of food poisoning. North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is pictured 

The Warmbier family and doctors in the US have both denied the North Koreans' claims that Otto slipped in to a coma as the result of food poisoning. North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is pictured 

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Comment by stephen myers on September 11, 2017 at 3:04pm

This guy supported that racist Trump? he is under mind control.

Comment by vaughn mitchell on June 23, 2017 at 3:07pm
White people feel sympathy for that idiot. Dennis Rodman, he is lost.
Comment by Robert on June 23, 2017 at 2:43pm
First and foremost Dennis Rodman is a clown an idiot.

Second I'm sorry for the kid's stupid mistake of traveling to a country he shouldn't have never been in.

It's crazy how many of you can feel sympathy for young man that who knowingly entered a non allied country Korea and destroyed government property but you cannot feel any sympathy or demand justice for an American man that was knowingly murdered by a police officer on America soil and on Facebook live.
Comment by CARIBBEAN QUEEN on June 23, 2017 at 2:37pm

poor rodman

Comment by David on June 21, 2017 at 1:15pm
Last week another murderous police officer was acquitted after shooting another black man after being stopped for a brake light on his car. To add insult to injury, he was gunned down in front of his 4 year old child! The victim never made it to N Korea to pull down a poster!
Comment by kat wig on June 20, 2017 at 5:50pm
This is HORRIBLE! I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if N.Korea experimented on This kid to cause his death
Comment by conscious1 on June 20, 2017 at 5:35pm

My sincere condolences to the family.  We in the black community know fully well how it feels to have your child held and murdered while they are in the hands of authorities and left standing with the dilemma of not really knowing what occurred to cause our children's death.  IT DOESN'T FEEL GOOD,  DOES IT, MR. & MRS. WARMBIER???????????????????????????

Comment by Sufferahsmusic Media Prod on June 20, 2017 at 3:48pm
Stealing a poster really bruh

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