US student Otto Warmbier has been freed from jail in North Korea, but his parents say he has been in a coma for a year.
The US secretary of state said the 22-year-old was on his way home to the US.
The Warmbier family told US media they had found out only last week that their son has been in a coma since shortly after his trial in March 2016.
Mr Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labour for attempting to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel.
Who is Otto Warmbier?
Otto Warmbier is an economics graduate from the University of Virginia, originally from Cincinnati, Ohio.
He was in North Korea as a tourist with Young Pioneer Tours when he was arrested on 2 January 2016.
He appeared emotional at a news conference a month later, in which he tearfully confessed to trying to take the sign as a “trophy” for a US church, adding “the aim of my task was to harm the motivation and work ethic of the Korean people”.
Foreign detainees in North Korea have previously recanted confessions, saying they were made under pressure.