North Korea demanded $2 million before agreeing to return Otto Warmbier


North Korea billed US $2m for Otto Warmbier's hospital care – report

North Korean officials handed a $2 million bill for medical expenses for now-deceased Otto Warmbier in 2017, CBS News' Christina Ruffini reports.

According to the Post, "the main USA envoy sent to retrieve Warmbier signed an agreement to pay the medical bill on instructions passed down from President Trump".

The bill was sent to the Treasury Department and remained unpaid through 2017, the Post reported.

The president sparked intense backlash after his last visit with North Korean Kim Jong Un for the unsuccessful summit in Vietnam, when he told reporters he believed Kim when the dictator said he was unaware of Warmbier's condition.

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the Post that the White House would not comment on "hostage negotiations, which is why they have been so successful during this administration".

He was convicted on charges stemming from pulling down a propaganda sign in a Pyongyang hotel in the early hours of January 1, 2016 - an infraction that would be minor in nearly any other country, but in North Korea it was considered a "hostile act against the state".

Back in 2016, Warmbier was jailed in North Korea and was in a coma when he was returned to the U.S. However, he died shortly after without regaining consciousness. He was comatose when he was released by the regime in June 2016 and died a few days after his arrival at home in Ohio.

Pyongyang claimed he had fallen into a coma after contracting botulism and being given a sleeping pill - but he reportedly was subjected to a severe beating.

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"Otto Warmbier was mistreated by North Korea in so many ways, including his wrongful conviction and harsh sentence, and the fact that for 16 months they refused to tell his family or our country about his dire condition they caused", Portman said.

The bill, and the agreement to sign it, were presented to Joseph Yun, the State Department's former special representative for North Korea Policy, in the lead-up to Warmbier's release.

Michael Flueckiger, an American emergency doctor, traveled with Yun to retrieve Warmbier.

A US court in December ordered North Korea to pay $501 million in damages for the torture and death of Warmbier. "It was my impression that if I did not give them a document that I could sign off on, that would cause problems", Flueckiger said in an interview.

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Flueckiger, who said he did not have to lie in his report, found that Otto had "state-of-the-art resuscitation" after he suffered cardiovascular collapse and had received "really good care" at the hospital in North Korea.

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