U.S. authorities “literally mugged” a delegation of DPRK diplomats at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York last week and “forcibly took away a diplomatic package”, North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) claimed on Sunday.
The incident reportedly took place on Friday June 16, to a group of North Koreans returning home after attending the 10th Session of the Conference of State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which was held between June 13 and June 15 at the United Nations.
“The delegation of the DPRK… was literally mugged at the John F. Kennedy International Airport by the U.S. authorities that forcibly took away a diplomatic package from the delegation by an illegal and heinous act of provocation,” the KCNA said, quoting a spokesperson for the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs as saying in an English dispatch.
The North said the U.S. government officials and the police officers made a “violent assault like gangsters to take away the diplomatic package from the DPRK diplomats who were in possession of a valid diplomatic courier certificate.”
KCNA added in a Korean version that the U.S. side had made a “disturbance by forcibly taking away the diplomatic package using physical violence and running away” while the North Korean diplomats “stubbornly resisted.”
A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was quoted by AP on Sunday confirming that U.S. officials had seized property from three North Koreans at JFK Airport, but argued they were not fully accredited members of the country’s diplomatic delegation and had responded with physical violence to the inspection.
“The package in question had no diplomatic protection from inspection,” David Lapan said.
“The reported aggression was initiated by the North Koreans,” he added. “The individuals were released without further incident but subsequently refused to board their departing flight without the items that had been seized.”
Pyongyang didn’t name the diplomats involved, but KCNA reported on June 8 that a delegation led by the ambassador of the Foreign Ministry Ri Hung Sik had left Pyongyang to participate in the convention.
According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, diplomatic baggage “shall not be opened or detained,” but the diplomatic bag “may contain only diplomatic documents or articles intended for official use.”
Diplomatic couriers carrying official documents “shall enjoy person inviolability and shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention,” it adds.
The spokesperson said the DPRK Ministry of Foreign Affairs considered “this mugging” an “intolerable act of infringement upon the sovereignty of the DPRK and a malicious provocation, and strongly condemns it in the name of the government of the DPRK.”
“This clearly shows that the U.S. is a felonious and lawless gangster state,” the spokesperson added, warning that the U.S. had committed a “reckless act” and warned of “grave consequences to follow.”
“If the U.S. fails to give its due response to our demand which is all too reasonable and fair enough, it will be totally responsible for all the consequences to be entailed,” the spokesperson warned.
Featured Image: John F. Kennedy International Airport’s Twitter
Edited by Oliver Hotham
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