Here's what you need to know about the Otto Warmbier controversy

Otto Warmbier at a news conference in the months before his sentencing in 2016

USA lawmakers introduced a bill last month that would ban US citizens from traveling to North Korea as tourists and require them to obtain special permission for other types of visits, following the detention of at least 17 Americans there in the past decade.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency on Thursday said Otto Warmbier had been sentenced to hard labor but didn't comment on his medical condition.

The USS Sterett is the first US warship to visit China since Donald Trump took office in January. They started in Norway, playing the role of neutral third party, and moved to NY, where North Korean diplomats are accredited at the United Nations. During Warmbier's last night in North Korea, New Year's Eve 2015, the 22-year-old tried to take down a North Korea regime propaganda poster inside the Yanggakdo International Hotel in Pyongyang.

(AP Photo/John Minchillo). Friends and relatives gather to listen as Fred Warmbier, father of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia undergraduate student who was imprisoned in North Korea in March 2016, as he speaks during a news conference, Thursday.

What happened next, and how Warmbier ended up in a coma, is still unclear.

Otto's father - Fred Warmbier - also made a statement on Thursday, appearing at his son's former high school wearing the coat that Otto was pictured in during his trial in North Korea. But the family has dismissed that explanation.

Instead, the doctors told reporters that the more likely cause of Warmbier's condition is cardiopulmonary arrest.

The "quiet diplomacy", as the State Department put it, came at a time of North Korean missile tests and increasing US pressure on Kim Jong Un's totalitarian government. In February, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson briefed Trump on the Americans held in North Korea.

Then in May, Yun met in the Norwegian capital of Oslo with senior officials from North Korea's Foreign Ministry.

North Korea is reportedly trying to develop a missile that could reach all the way to the U.S. Pacific coast, a threat that U.S. intelligence officials are monitoring closely through space satellite images of nuclear facilities inside the Hermit Kingdom. Over the next days, officials said, Tillerson and Trump discussed the case. There are now three United States aircraft carriers within striking range of North Korea, meaning that the United States is essentially prepared for serious military conflict with North Korea. "I don't know what being in shock is", he said, "but I'm pretty sure I was". "Some of these, as I hope you can try to understand, are sensitive, diplomatic matters".

Yun boarded a private aircraft along with two doctors and arrived Monday in Pyongyang, where they were met by North Korean officials and saw Warmbier in a hospital. The next day, Warmbier was flown to a USA base in Japan before making the longer journey to OH to be reunited with his family. After Swedish officials met with one of the American detainees, North Korean officials requested another meeting with USA officials. Warmbier had been in that medical state for more than a year.

A Department of State spokeswoman won't say what envoy Joseph Yun gleaned about the medical conditions of the other Americans. The U.S. wouldn't publicly describe their condition.

A US diplomat who traveled to North Korea to secure American college student Otto Warmbier's (WORM'-birz) release also was able to make contact with three other Americans detained there.

The statement said: "If the United States continues challenging the just cause of the DPRK [North Korea] in disregard of the strong might and will of North Korean people, it will never escape the merciless strike of the powerful revolutionary Paektusan army". In an emotional news conference in OH, the father did not demur when asked if Obama could have done more. "Do I think the former administration could have done more?"

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