North Korean officials asked for $2 million before allowing U.S. officials to take Otto Warmbier, the comatose University of Virginia student who was held prisoner in North Korea, back to the United States.
A U.S. envoy sent to take Warmbier home signed the North Korean’s invoice under orders from President Donald Trump, anonymous sources told The Washington Post. It remains unclear whether Trump paid the $2 million invoice or discussed the bill with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
However, Trump said in September of 2018 that the U.S. did not pay to bring hostages back from North Korea, according to The Washington Post.
“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 an email to The Washington Post.
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. Trump helped negotiate Warmbier’s release in June 2017, but Warmbier died a week after his return.
“We have been respectful during this summit process. Now we must speak out. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son, Otto,” Fred and Cindy Warmbier, Otto’s parents, said in a March statement. “Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuses or lavish praise can change that.”
Warmbier’s father claims that his son was “taken hostage, kept as a prisoner for political purposes, used as a pawn and singled out for exceptionally harsh and brutal treatment by Kim Jong Un. Kim and his regime have portrayed themselves as innocent, while they intentionally destroyed our son’s life. This lawsuit is another step in holding North Korea accountable for its barbaric treatment of Otto and our family.”
The Warmbier lawsuit reveals that when Otto Warmbier returned to the U.S., he was both blind and deaf and had clear signs of physical abuse.
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