An air traffic control tower stands at John F. Kennedy International Airport in N.Y.C.
North Korea on Sunday accused U.S. officials of “mugging” its diplomats at Kennedy International Airport by seizing a diplomatic package they were carrying.
A North Korean delegation, returning home from a UN conference in New York, was about to board a plane Friday when more than 20 agents and police officers from the Department of Homeland Security confiscated the package, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman saying.
“As the diplomats vigorously resisted, they grabbed the diplomatic package using physical violence and made off,” the spokesman said, adding that the North Koreans were carrying a valid diplomatic courier certificate.
“This clearly shows that the U.S. is a felonious and lawless gangster state,” the spokesman said. “The U.S. should reflect on its reckless act and be fully aware of the grave consequences to follow.”
The spokesman said North Korea “regards this mugging by the U.S. as an intolerable act of infringement upon the sovereignty” of the country, and demanded an explanation and an apology. The spokesman was not quoted by name, as is common in North Korean news reports.
He did not disclose what the diplomatic package contained.
In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security said its officers assisted in the inspection of three North Korean citizens on Friday, seizing “multiple media items and packages.” It did not explain why the items were seized, but said the North Koreans attempted to retrieve them.
“According to the U.S. State Department, the North Korean citizens were not accredited members of North Korea’s mission to the U.N. and had no entitlement to diplomatic immunity,” the statement said. “The package in question had no protection from inspection.”
North Korea said its delegation was returning home after attending a session of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.