The former State Department Special Representative for North Korea said Monday that he believes President Donald Trump signed off on an agreement to pay North Korea for the ‘care’ and release of Otto Warmbier. Joseph Yun told CNN on Monday that he signed the $2 million agreement in 2017 with the approval of then-Secretary of
The former State Department Special Representative for North Korea said Monday that he believes President Donald Trump signed off on an agreement to pay North Korea for the ‘care’ and release of Otto Warmbier.
Joseph Yun told CNN on Monday that he signed the $2 million agreement in 2017 with the approval of then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to get the American student back to the U.S. from North Korean custody.
‘As soon as North Korea side told me that this bill for $2 million would have to be paid … I contacted my boss then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson,’ Yun said, noting that Tillerson ‘got back to me very quickly thereafter to say yes, go ahead and sign.’
Warmier became ill while in North Korean custody and was returned to the U.S. in a comatose state – he died a few days later.
Former State Department Special Representative for North Korea Joseph Yun said he signed a $2 million agreement, with approval from then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, for the release of now-deceased American student Otto Warmbier
Warmbier was arrested in 2015 for taking propaganda from the wall of a North Korean hotel when he was visiting to celebrate New Years Eve while he was studying abroad in Hong Kong. He mysteriously fell int o a coma on the day that he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea
President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he didn’t pay North Korea for Warmbier’s release. There are conflicting reports on whether the $2 million bill has been paid
Trump said Friday his administration had not paid North Korea ransom for Warmbier.
‘No money was paid to North Korea for Otto Warmbier, not two Million Dollars, not anything else,’ Trump wrote Friday.
Yun said he was under the impression that President Donald Trump was aware of Tillerson’s decision and gave him the go-ahead to direct Yun to sign the $2 million agreement.
‘That was my understanding. I never asked him, but that was my understanding,’ the former special representative said when asked if he thought Tillerson had Trump’s approval.
Warmbier was arrested in North Korea in 2015 while completing a study abroad program in Hong Kong. He was part of a group that included ten other Americans who were celebrating New Year’s Eve in Pyongyang, North Korea.
The student took down a propaganda poster from the wall of his hotel, which he planned to take home as a souvenir from his trip to the totalitarian nation. Shortly after, he was arrested at the airport in Pyongyang, and confessed on North Korean television six weeks into his detention that he took the poster.
He was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor.
Yun said he was under the impression that Trump knew about the $2 million agreement
Warmbier died days after he was released into US custody in 2017. An Ohio coroner said Warmbier died from a lack of oxygen and blood to the brain. Pyongyang blamed botulism and ingestion of a sleeping pill and dismissed torture claims
Warmbier’s parents, Fred and Cindy, were recognized during Trump’s State of the Union address in 2018. Fred Warmbier said that he had not been informed about any hospital bill and that it sounded like a ‘ransom’ for his late son
Trump and Kim have had two bilateral, in-person meetings including one in June 2018
The U.S. State Department said at the time North Korea arrested Warmbier to make a political statement.
Trump has been highly critical of former President Barack Obama for negotiating and paying for the release of hostages.
‘This is not the Obama Administration that paid 1.8 Billion Dollars for four hostages, or gave five terroist hostages plus, who soon went back to battle, for traitor Sgt. Bergdahl!’ Trump wrote on Twitter.
Obama agreed to release five prisoners as a condition of the Taliban’s release of former Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in 2014, and, in a separate transaction agreed to a 10-figure payout to Iran for the release of Americans in Tehran’s custody.
Yun, now a CNN contributor, said he does not know if the Trump administration plans to pay the $2 million he pledged to North Korea, but believes the US should carry out their end of the arrangement.
White House national security adviser John Bolton corroborated Yun’s account when he told Fox News on Sunday that Yun signed a pledge to pay $2 million for Warmbier’s release. Bolton said that the U.S. has not made any payments yet.
Warmbier’s father, Fred Warmbier, told the Washington Post, which was the first outlet to report on Yun’s agreement on Thursday, that he did not have any knowledge of the bill.
He also said the agreement sounded like a ‘ransom’ request for his late son.
Trump made it clear that he has no intention to pay the $2 million, and cited his track record as ‘the greatest hostage negotiator.’
‘”President Donald J. Trump is the greatest hostage negotiator that I know of in the history of the United States. 20 hostages, many in impossible circumstances, have been released in last two years. No money was paid.” Cheif Hostage Negotiator, USA!’ Trump wrote.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told Dailymail.com that the author of the quote is ‘Robert O’Brien, the Administration’s Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs.’