Dennis Rodman is under fire for making his fourth trip to North Korea to visit with dictator Kim Jung Un. A petition has been launched to remove the 56-year-old retired NBA star from the Basketball Hall of Fame following his most recent visit to North Korea.
Rodman seemed to take credit for Otto Warmbier's release from a North Korea prison last week. The 22-year-old college student died Monday, six days after he was released from the prison.
"I was just so happy to see the kid released,” Rodman told ABC’s “Good Morning America" on Friday.
"Later that day, that’s when we found out he was ill, no one knew that. We jumped up and down. Some good things came of this trip,” he added.
A State Department spokesman said Rodman had nothing to do with Warmbier's release. Warmbier’s father, Fred, also said in a statement to ABC News that Rodman was not a factor in Otto's release.
North Korean officials said Warmbier's death is "a mystery to us".
Doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center where Warmbier was treated said he was in a vegetative state with severe brain damage from lack of oxygen.
The doctors said his skin was intact, meaning North Korean nurses took care to turn him at proper intervals to prevent bed sores. Doctors also said his nutritional status was good and there were no physical signs of torture.
There are unconfirmed rumors that Warmbier attempted suicide by hanging himself in his cell after he was sentenced to 15 years hard labor for stealing a propaganda poster at the Pyongyang hotel where he was staying in 2016.
Warmbier told N. Korean officials he stole the sign to bring back as a souvenir for a church member. He said the church promised to give his parents $200,000 in "charitable donations" if he got caught.
Wamrbier said he agreed to steal the sign because his parents were in financial difficulty.
His parents reportedly refused to allow an autopsy that may have revealed whether he tried to hang himself.
Warmbier traveled to the nation's capitol as part of a tour group organized by Young Pioneer Tours, which provides "extreme" trips to “destinations your mother would rather you stay away from."
The travel agency, which is based in China, said it will no longer take U.S. citizens to North Korea because Americans don't abide by the country's laws.
Other tour companies are reviewing their options on taking Americans to North Korea.