President Donald Trump agreed to pay the North Korean government $2 million in 2017 for the “care” it administered to Otto Warmbier, the late American college student who was imprisoned in North Korea and returned to the United States in a grave comatose state.
The Washington Post reported on Thursday that North Korean officials brazenly presented American officials with a bill for $2 million that they demanded the United States pay before they released Warmbier and allowed him to fly home.
The newspaper notes that the invoice has not previously been disclosed by U.S. or North Korean officials.
According to the Post, “the main U.S. envoy sent to retrieve Warmbier signed an agreement to pay the medical bill on instructions passed down from President Trump.” The bill then went to the Treasury Department where it remained unpaid through 2017. The Post notes it is unclear if the bill was ever paid.
The Post adds:
Warmbier, who was 21, fell into a coma for unknown reasons the night he was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor in March 2016.
He was convicted on charges stemming from pulling down a propaganda sign in a Pyongyang hotel in the early hours of Jan. 1, 2016. Such an infraction would be minor in almost any other country, but in North Korea it was considered a “hostile act against the state.”
After his sentencing, the North Koreans held onto the comatose student for another 15 months, not even telling American officials until June 2017 that he had been unconscious all that time. News of his condition sparked a frantic effort led by Joseph Yun, the State Department’s point man on North Korea at the time, to get Warmbier home.
Fred Warmbier, Otto’s father, said he was never told about the hospital bill and said it sounded like a “ransom” for his late son.