Dennis Rodman, diplomat? He's back in North Korea

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The former contestant on Celebrity Apprentice has become friendly with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and some suspect he is carrying a message from President Trump, who's praised Rodman's engagement with Pyongyang in the past.

Dennis Rodman is returning to North Korea, but the reasoning behind his trip is unclear. The North Korean leader is reportedly a big fan of basketball. North Korea is expecting another visit by Rodman on Tuesda.

Since taking office in January, U.S. President Donald Trump has faced growing tensions with North Korea, which has conducted a series of ballistic missile tests in defiance of U.S. and worldwide sanctions.

Americans have been sentenced to years in North Korean prisons for such seemingly minor offenses as stealing a political banner and likely could not expect leniency if the country's drug laws were violated.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced Tuesday the release of Otto Warmbier (WORM'-bir), a University of Virginia student.

"Our son is coming home", Fred Warmbier told the Washington Post. USA officials did not confirm those details.

Mr Warmbier had been in a coma for more than a year, since shortly after his last appearance at the trial, said The Washington Post.

Controversial US basketball star Dennis Rodman is returning for a visit to North Korea.

They added they were grateful their son "will finally be with people who love him".

Republican Senator Rob Portman says North Korea should be "universally condemned for its abhorrent behaviour". The official referred to them as "hostages".

U.S. Senator Rob Portman of OH said: "Otto's detainment and sentence was unnecessary and appalling, and North Korea should be universally condemned for its abhorrent behavior". Thousands of US troops are based in South Korea, and the Demilitarized Zone between the North and South is one of the most heavily fortified borders in the world. Rodman said the detainees aren't the reason he's traveling to see Kim.

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Fast forward to January 2014, when CNN's Chris Cuomo asked Rodman about his recent trip to North Korea and about Bae. He visited Warmbier with two doctors on Monday, and demanded his release on humanitarian grounds. He was evacuated on Tuesday.

Rodman is heading to North Korea later Tuesday from Beijing.

It's not clear if Warmbier's release during Rodman's visit was purely coincidental.

This time around, Rodman is expected to spend four nights in North Korea.

On one of his trips to North Korea, in January 2014, Rodman took a group of retired NBA stars to Pyongyang for what one of them called "basketball diplomacy" with North Korean players. He told reporters in Beijing, as he departed for Pyongyang, that he hopes his trip will "open a door" for Trump.

North Korea has conducted 10 missile tests this year. He is looking to increase economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea, with help from China, but has said he's open to meeting Kim. While the U.S.is aware of the current visit, Rodman is acting as a private citizen. A 2009 visit by former President Bill Clinton secured the freedom of American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling.

"But we have issued travel warnings to Americans and suggested they not travel to North Korea for their own safety", said US Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon, according to Reuters news agency.

- Kim Hak-song, another American professor, was arrested May 6 on suspicion of "hostile acts" against the regime.

But Trump has also described Kim as a "madman with nuclear weapons" who could not be let on the loose.

He taught at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, a privately run school that has dozens of foreign faculty.

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