North Korea Gave Washington $2 Million Hospital Bill for Otto Warmbier

North Korea Gave Washington $2 Million Hospital Bill for Otto Warmbier

The United States was handed a $2m bill from North Korea for the hospital care of American Otto Warmbier, who died soon after his release back to the U.S. in a comatose state in 2017, after being detained for 17 months.

The Washington Post, citing two people familiar with the situation, reported that Joseph Yun, a United States envoy sent to North Korea to retrieve the 21-year-old student, signed an agreement to pay the US$2 million on instructions passed down from President Donald Trump. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

It was unclear whether the bill was ever paid, the report said.

While the North Koreans did not bring up the bill during Trump's summits with Kim Jong Un in Singapore and Vietnam, the source noted that the expectation for this payment could be brought up again.

"We do not comment on hostage negotiations, which is why they have been so successful during this administration", White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement to CBS News.

After signing the documentation, Yun and Flueckiger returned Warmbier to his parents in Cincinnati, where he died six days later.

Yun added that it was his understanding that in previous releases of US prisoners, money had been exchanged and was justified as "hospital costs", but he gave no further details. Joseph Yun, the special envoy to North Korea at the time, signed off on paying the bill, but the USA did not intend to pay it. Warmbier, a college student, had been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after North Korea found him guilty of "crimes against the state" related to him taking a propaganda poster while on a tourism trip to Pyongyang.

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FILE - In this March 16, 2016, file photo, American student Otto Warmbier, center, is escorted at the Supreme Court in Pyongyang, North Korea.

American student Otto Warmbier at his 2015 trial. "They owe the Warmbier family everything".

Parents Fred and Cindy Warmbier are from suburban Cincinnati, Ohio. The White House has previously claimed it paid "nothing" to get "hostages" out of North Korea.

Yun told CNN on Thursday that he could not discuss details of his diplomatic discussions.

Reached by CNN on Thursday, Yun said he could not confirm the report because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.

"This is outrageous. They killed a perfectly healthy and happy college student and then had the audacity to expect the USA government to pay for his care", said Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.

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