WASHINGTON (AP) — North Korea reportedly insisted the U.S. agree to pay $2 million in medical costs in 2017 before it released detained American college student Otto Warmbier while he was in a coma.
The Washington Post reports that a U.S. envoy sent to North Korea to retrieve the 21-year-old student signed an agreement to pay the $2 million on instructions passed down from President Donald Trump.
The paper says the U.S. did not pay the money at least through 2017 and that it is unclear whether it paid it later.
A White House spokeswoman declined comment Thursday to The Associated Press, saying the administration does not discuss hostage negotiations.
Warmbier was convicted of attempting to steal a propaganda poster. He died shortly after arriving back in the U.S. in June 2017.
U.S. Senator Rob Portman took to Twitter Thursday in reaction:
No, the United States owes them nothing. They owe the Warmbier family everything.— Rob Portman (@senrobportman) April 25, 2019
Senator Sherrod Brown released a statement to 2 NEWS, saying:
“After the cruel and inhumane way the North Korean regime treated Otto Warmbier, it’s unconscionable to issue a medical bill and expect payment. Otto never should have been detained by North Korea and he would be alive today if not for the regime’s sham legal proceedings.”