Report: North Korea billed US $2 million for Otto Warmbier’s medical care

Report: North Korea billed US $2 million for Otto Warmbier’s medical care
Otto Warmbier

CINCINNATI, OH - North Korea sent a $2 million bill for Otto Warmbier’s medical bills when he was released from captivity in 2017, according to the Washington Post.

Warmbier, a 21-year-old college student from Wyoming, died shortly after being returned to his family after 15 months in captivity in North Korea.

According to our media partners at the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Washington Post is reporting, “the main U.S. envoy sent to retrieve Warmbier signed an agreement to pay the medical bill on instructions passed down from President Trump, according to two people familiar with the situation. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.”

According to the Washington Post: "The bill went to the Treasury Department, where it remained — unpaid — throughout 2017, the people said. However, it is unclear whether the Trump administration later paid the bill, or whether it came up during preparations for Trump’s two summits with Kim Jong Un," the Post reported.

In the article, the Washington Post said North Korean officials handed the U.S. envoy a bill for $2 million, “insisting he sign an agreement to pay it before they would allow him to take Warmbier home.”

According to the Post, the envoy sent to pick up Warmbier called then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and told him about the bill and Tillerson called Trump. Then the envoy was told to sign the bill, the Post reported.

Warmbier was ending a visit to North Korea in January 2016 when authorities arrested him at the airport in the capital city of Pyongyang. Three weeks later, Warmbier delivered a stilted “confession” to stealing a poster from a hotel.

In March 2016, Warmbier was convicted in a show trial of crimes against the state and sentenced to 15 years at hard labor.

U.S. officials had counseled his family to keep silent over as Warmbier’s parents waited for an end to his ordeal. For 15 months, the family heard nothing.

In June 2017, the North Korean government released Otto Warmbier, but he returned to Cincinnati with a massive brain injury that had left him blind, deaf and unable to move under his own power. He died June 19, 2017, at 21.

In December, a U.S. District Court awarded Warmbier’s family $500 million dollars in a lawsuit against North Korea. The family had requested more than $1 billion, but the judge did not grant the full amount.

Judge Beryl Howell ruled that North Korea was liable for the torture, hostage-taking, and extrajudicial killing of Otto Warmbier and the injuries to his mother and father.

Fred Warmbier, Otto’s father, told the Washinton Post he had never been told about the hospital bill, but said it sounded like a “ransom” for his late son.