Dennis Rodman takes credit for Otto Warmbier’s release from North Korea
US student was detained for 18 months before returning home to Ohio on June 13 with severe neurological injuries – he died last week
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman made an appearance on Friday’s Good Morning America and essentially took credit for North Korea’s release of Otto Warmbier, an American college student imprisoned in the country for 18 months.
Warmbier returned home to Ohio on June 13 with severe neurological injuries. He died on Monday.
Chris Volo, Rodman’s agent, sat alongside his client during the interview with Michael Strahan and detailed what he said was their involvement with Warmbier’s release.
“I asked on behalf of Dennis for [Warmbier’s] release three times,” Volo said, referring to the release as a “type of good faith”.
Last week, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert denied that Rodman had anything to do with Warmbier’s release, and when asked about his visit said: “We strongly, strongly suggest Americans not travel to North Korea.”
Warmbier’s father echoed the sentiment regarding Rodman in a news conference on June 15.
“Dennis Rodman had nothing to do with Otto,” he said. “It’s a diversion ... This is all planned.”
When Strahan asked Rodman about his friendship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un – whom Rodman has called “a friend for life” – and how the basketball star could maintain that relationship in the face of Warmbier’s treatment, Rodman was initially cagey.
“He’s a friend of mine, OK, great. I don’t look at the political side about him. I look at the friendship about him,” Rodman said. “It’s the politics that’s the bad thing. If we can try to figure something out, just open the door.”
The two-time contestant of Celebrity Apprentice also used the interview to encourage President Donald Trump to make more of an effort with North Korea.
“Donald, come talk to me. Let’s try to work this out,” Rodman said.
On Friday, North Korea denied accusations that it had mistreated Warmbier.
“The fact that Warmbier died suddenly in less than a week just after his return to the US in his normal state of health indicators is a mystery to us as well,” a statement from the country’s official Korean Central News Agency said. “To make it clear, we are the biggest victim of this incident and there would be no more foolish judgment than to think we do not know how to calculate gains and losses.”