Warmbier fell into a coma while in a North Korean labor camp.
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North Korea has an oft-used hostage-taking strategy for detained American citizens who are valuable diplomatic bargaining chips for the regime, but the case of Otto Warmbier, flown home in a coma this week, is a glaring exception.Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student from Cincinnati who was in North Korea as a tourist, looked set to follow the usual pattern.North Korea, a one-party state that maintains prison camps and has a dire record on human rights, has for decades pursued a nuclear weapons program, despite global condemnation and successive rounds of U.N. sanctions.Experts said it was unlikely North Korea would have intentionally put a detained American into a coma.Three more U.S. citizens are currently being held by North Korea, including two men who taught at a Pyongyang university funded by overseas Christian groups, and a Korean-American pastor who was accused of espionage for the South.Some experts suggested that the timing of Warmbier's release – coinciding with a visit to Pyongyang by eccentric ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman – might have allowed North Korea to salvage something from the situation.
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