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Little is known on status of US student held in North Korea

  • FILE - In this March 16, 2016, file photo, American student Otto Warmbier, center, is escorted at the Supreme Court in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea announced Warmbier's detention Jan. 22, 2016, and the University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years in prison at hard labor after a televised confession that he tried to steal a propaganda banner. As President Donald Trump's administration takes office one year later, there's been little public word about what has happened to Warmbier. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin, File)

    FILE - In this March 16, 2016, file photo, American student Otto Warmbier, center, is escorted at the Supreme Court in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea announced Warmbier's detention Jan. 22, 2016, and the University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years in prison at hard labor after a televised confession that he tried to steal a propaganda banner. As President Donald Trump's administration takes office one year later, there's been little public word about what has happened to Warmbier. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE – In this Feb. 29, 2016, file photo, American student Otto Warmbier speaks as Warmbier is presented to reporters in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea announced Warmbier's detention Jan. 22, 2016, and the University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years in prison at hard labor after a televised confession that he tried to steal a propaganda banner. As President Donald Trump's administration takes office one year later, there's been little public word about what has happened to Warmbier. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon, File)

    FILE – In this Feb. 29, 2016, file photo, American student Otto Warmbier speaks as Warmbier is presented to reporters in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea announced Warmbier's detention Jan. 22, 2016, and the University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years in prison at hard labor after a televised confession that he tried to steal a propaganda banner. As President Donald Trump's administration takes office one year later, there's been little public word about what has happened to Warmbier. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon, File)  (The Associated Press)

There's been little public word about what has happened to an American college student detained by North Korea, as a new administration takes over one year later amid deep U.S. concerns about the hostile country's nuclear and missile development.

North Korea announced last Jan. 22 it had detained Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati, for alleged anti-state crime. Warmbier was sentenced in March to 15 years in prison at hard labor after a televised public confession to trying to steal a propaganda banner.

A range of U.S. authorities has urged his release on humanitarian grounds.

The State Department says it continues to actively work for his earliest possible release, calling his punishment "unduly harsh" and that it's clear such detainees are used for political purposes.