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Portman Weighs In On Warmbier Medical Bill From North Korea

Senator Rob Portman wore his Otto Warmbier t-shirt while a North Korean guard takes a picture during a recent trip to the DMZ.
Senator Rob Portman wore his Otto Warmbier t-shirt while a North Korean guard takes a picture during a recent trip to the DMZ.

Senator Rob Portman, recently back from a fact-finding mission to Asia where he wore an Otto Warmbier t-shirt at the Korean border, says the U.S. doesn't owe North Korea anything. The Washington Post reports North Korea made the U.S. promise it would foot a $2 million hospital bill before it allowed the Wyoming High School graduate to return home. That bill remains unpaid.

Warmbier was jailed in December 2015 after North Korea claimed he stole a propaganda poster and sentenced him to 15 years of hard labor. Eventually Senator Portman and others learned the Wyoming High graduate was brain damaged. Portman scoffs at paying the regime anything.

"He ended up in this dire condition caused by the North Koreans and then for 16 months they hid that from all of us," he told WVXU.

Portman says in fact, North Korea owes the Warmbiers $500 million for the death of their son. "North Korea owed a debt to the Warmbier family for how they terribly mistreated their son and there were so many ways Otto was mistreated."

Otto's father Fred told the Washington Post he was never told about the hospital bill and said it sounded like "ransom" for his late son.

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