North Korea billed United States $2M for hospital care for Otto Warmbier

Otto Warmbier

North Korean officials asked for $2 million before allowing USA officials to take Otto Warmbier, the comatose University of Virginia student who was held prisoner in North Korea, back to the United States.

The Post reported Thursday that two officials familiar with the situation said the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) presented the US Treasury with the bill two years ago before it would return Warmbier, who had fallen into a coma while in North Korean custody.

They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the matter publicly.

However, while the bill wasn't paid in 2017, it's unclear if it has been since.

Earlier this year, Trump angered Warmbier's family when he said that he believed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un didn't know anything about how Warmbier had been treated, while insisting that Kim "felt very badly" that he was returned to the United States in a coma.

"We do not comment on hostage negotiations, which is why they have been so successful during this administration", press secretary Sarah Sanders told the Washington Post in an email. His parents say he was tortured. He was released after 17 months.

While in North Korea in January 2016, 22-year-old Warmbier allegedly stole a propaganda poster and was convicted and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in March of that year.

North Korea, which has denied accusations by relatives that it tortured Warmbier, has said he was provided "medical treatments and care with all sincerity".

The Trump administration arranged Warmbier's transfer out of North Korea, but he died about a week later after falling into a vegetative state.

Warmbier had received "really good care" at the hospital, which exclusively treats foreigners, he told the newspaper. "They owe the Warmbier family everything".

The Warmbiers sued Pyongyang over their son's death and requested $1.05 billion in punitive damages and about $46 million for the family's suffering.

An Ohio coroner said Warmbier died from a lack of oxygen and blood to the brain.

The White House declined to comment to the newspaper about the bill, which was not previously disclosed by United States or North Korean officials.

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

Yun told CNN he could not confirm the reports about the $2 million bill but said, "My orders were completely do whatever you can to get Otto Warmbier back".



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