But the fact that he had been kept, comatose, in North Korea for more than a year could worsen the already tense relationship between Pyongyang and Washington.
In this undated photo published on September 7, 2013, on the homepage of North Korea's Rodong Sinmun newspaper, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, talks with former National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman during a dinner in North Korea.
The NBA Hall of Fame player arrived in Pyongyang for a four-day visit the same day Warmbier was released.
An American student who fell into a coma while imprisoned in a North Korean labor camp returned to the United States late Tuesday after Pyongyang allowed him to be flown home, U.S. media reported.
A US citizen who is being held in North Korea on charges of "hostile acts" against the Kim Jong Un regime may actually have faced different charges at the time of his arrest, according to an eyewitness.
North Korea has woefully inadequate medical care, and it is not clear how North Korean doctors had been caring for Warmbier for more than a year in an unconscious state.
Authorities are believed to have arrested Kim Hak Song, who had been in North Korea for several weeks working at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), on May 6 this year as he was about to leave the country. Shortly before sentencing, was held a press-conference at which Warmbir, not hiding tears, asked forgiveness of the North Korean people, calling the attempt to steal the poster "the most awful mistake in life".
North Korea has a track record of detaining South Korean and American travelers, and using them as diplomatic leverage in negotiations with the detainees' home countries. The North Korean account, the family said, claimed Warmbier then fell into a coma after being given a sleeping pill.
Warmbier also said he had been encouraged by the university's "Z Society", which he said he was trying to join.
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State Department spokesman Heather Nauert, when asked whether Warmbier's release could open the way for dialogue amid high tensions between the Trump administration and North Korea, said: "It's just too soon to say".
In 2013, a pre-presidential Donald Trump stated that Rodman was "smart" for undertaking a trip to North Korea, Politico reported at the time.
Two women waiting outside the airport fence held signs: "WELCOME HOME OTTO" and "PRAYERS FOR OTTO", and said they were there to support his family.
"We're absolutely thrilled. There are many happy people tonight in Wyoming", Wyoming City Council member Jenni McCauley said.
Rodman routinely distances himself from political events in North Korea.
Rodman, one of the few people to know both of the nuclear-armed leaders, sported a black T-shirt advertising a cybercurrency used to buy and sell marijuana as he talked to reporters briefly before boarding his flight from Beijing to the North Korean capital. It's safe to say it stands up half-a-decade later.
Last week, North Korean officials told Yun about Warmbier's medical condition.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced Tuesday the release of Otto Warmbier (WORM'-bir), a University of Virginia student. "I've not spoken with Dennis Rodman". That would be grounds in North Korea for a subversion charge. "I will discuss my mission upon my return to the United States of America", he tweeted on Tuesday.
Pyongyang accused him of supporting the US hostile policy against the DPRK and undermining the unity of the DPRK people. On Monday, Trump was pilloried by the media as he presided over a Cabinet meeting that ended with each of his lieutenants sitting around the table taking turns to praise and thank the president. "North Korea is persecuting their savior, a person who came to help them".
SEOUL - A seemingly endless series of North Korean military provocations and escalating war threats notwithstanding, hopes remain high for better days ahead for sports exchanges on the divided Korean Peninsula.