North Korea’s JFK “mugging” claim – that its delegation was roughed up there by U.S. agents who grabbed a legal "diplomatic package" – has been countered by the Department of Homeland Security saying three North Koreans were confronted at the airport but they had no diplomatic status.
According to the North Korea state-run KCNA, the North Koreans at John F. Kennedy International Airport were part of its United Nations delegation and they were attacked by U.S. authorities who "made a violent assault like gangsters," per the New York Daily News.
The North Korean diplomats were returning home from a U.N. conference on the rights of people with disabilities.
"As the diplomats vigorously resisted, they grabbed the diplomatic package using physical violence and made off," said a North Korea foreign ministry spokesman, adding the incident involved 20 U.S. agents.
KCNA, though, didn’t mention what was contained in the confiscated package, according to Bloomberg.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the DPRK regards this mugging by the U.S. as an intolerable act of infringement upon the sovereignty of the DPRK and a malicious provocation, and strongly condemns it," KCNA stated, per Bloomberg.
The Department of Homeland Security confirmed that three North Koreans were confronted at JFK, but added that they did not have diplomatic status, reported CNN.
"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 package in question had no diplomatic protection from inspection," said a Homeland Security statement, per CNN.
"DHS seized multiple media items and packages from the individuals, at which time the North Koreans attempted to physically retrieve the items but were prevented from doing so by DHS officers. The reported aggression was initiated by the North Koreans," said DHS.
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