President Donald Trump said the U.S. paid nothing to North Korea to secure the freedom of student Otto Warmbier, who died in 2017 shortly after his return to the United States.
“No money was paid to North Korea for Otto Warmbier, not 2 million dollars, not anything else,’’ Trump tweeted on Friday.
The Washington Post and CNN reported this week that North Korea demanded 2 million dollars for Warmbier’s hospital care during negotiations in 2017.
CNN reported the Trump administration did not pay the bill.
Warmbier was 21 when he was convicted in March 2016 for crimes against North Korea after he allegedly took a propaganda sign from a hotel where he was staying during a tourist visit.
He was sentenced to 15 years and hard labour.
He was returned to the U.S. in a comatose state in June 2017 and died days later.
He was 22.
He showed possible signs of torture, including damaged teeth and a scar that may have resulted from electric shocks.
Pyongyang said his brain damage was the result of a rare disease, but the U.S. side said it appeared he has lost blood to his brain for a number of minutes.
A U.S. court awarded the Warmbier family 501 million dollars; though it is unlikely North Korea will ever pay.