North Korea claims diplomats ′mugged′ at US airport

North Korea claims diplomats were 'mugged' at New York airport

US officials have said that the men were not accredited diplomats. The US Department of Homeland Security confirmed that items were confiscated but denied allegations of physical violence.

The government of North Korea claimed on Sunday that US officials used physical violence and stole items from a diplomatic delegation departing from New York's John F. Kennedy Airport.

Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) called it an "illegal and heinous act of provocation."

According to the North Korean government, some of its diplomats were on their way home after attending the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on June 16.

It was then that they were "literally mugged," by security agents, who confiscated some media material, according to the Foreign Ministry in Pyongyang.

A 'gangster state'

"As the diplomats vigorously resisted, they grabbed the diplomatic package using physical violence and made off," the North Korean ministry said. "This clearly shows that the US is a felonious and lawless gangster state."

"The international community needs to seriously reconsider whether or not New York, where such an outrageous mugging is rampant, is fit to serve as the venue for international meetings," the ministry claimed.

The US Department of Homeland Security confirmed that some items had been taken but stated that the men in question were not accredited members of North Korea's UN mission and therefore had no diplomatic immunity.

Long-simmering tensions between the two countries have increased since President Donald Trump took office in January.

Only three days before the incident at JFK Airport, a 22-year-old student was returned to the US in a state of "severe neurological injury" after 15 months in detention in North Korea.

Otto Warmbier had been charged with espionage after he tried to steal a propaganda poster during a short trip to the isolated state. Warmbier has since died,with his father citing "torturous mistreatment" at the hands of the regime as the reason for his passing.

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es/jm (AP, Reuters)


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