Travel ban.

De­ci­sion fol­lows death of Otto Warm­bier six days af­ter his re­lease

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Wil­liam Brani­gin and Carol Morello

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion plans to pro­hibit Amer­i­cans from trav­el­ing to North Korea.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion plans to pro­hibit Amer­i­cans from trav­el­ing to North Korea, the State Depart­ment an­nounced Fri­day, cit­ing se­ri­ous risks of ar­rest and im­pris­on­ment in the iso­lated to­tal­i­tar­ian state.

The ban, first dis­closed by tour groups that spe­cial­ize in travel to North Korea, comes in ap­par­ent re­tal­i­a­tion for the de­ten­tion of U.S. cit­i­zens there and the death of a young tourist who was held for nearly 18 months be­fore be­ing flown home in a coma.

Two tour com­pa­nies, Ko­ryo Tours and Young Pi­o­neer Tours, said they were told the ban would be for­mally de­clared July 27 and would take ef­fect a month later.

“The safety and se­cu­rity of U.S. cit­i­zens over­seas is one of our high­est pri­or­i­ties,” State Depart­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert said Fri­day. The ban would make U.S. pass­ports in­valid for travel to North Korea, although ex­emp­tions would al­low Amer­i­cans to ob­tain pass­ports with a spe­cial val­i­da­tion for vis­its to the coun­try. The re­stric­tions will take ef­fect 30 days af­ter a no- tice is pub­lished in the Fed­eral Reg­is­ter.

Otto Warm­bier, a stu­dent from Ohio, used China-based Young Pi­o­neer Tours to travel to North Korea in Jan­uary 2016, only to be ar­rested on charges of at­tempt­ing to steal a pro­pa­ganda poster and sen­tenced to 15 years im­pris­on­ment with hard la­bor. He died June 19 at age 22, six days af­ter be­ing re­leased in a coma and flown home to Cincin­nati.

Three U.S. cit­i­zens re­main im­pris­oned in North Korea. One is a busi­ness­man and two had taught at Py­ongyang Uni­ver­sity of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy, a school at­tended by the chil­dren of North Korea’s elite.

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