Sunday, 17 December, 2017

North Korea demands explanations from United States over seizure of diplomatic package

Melinda Barton | 20 June, 2017, 02:16

The former University of Virginia student and OH native had been in North Korean custody since January 2016.

According to North Korean state media organisation KNCA, two of its officials were returning home from a United Nations conference in NY last Friday.

The North Korean diplomats were reportedly returning from a United Nations conference on disability rights when the incident - branded by KCNA as a "illegal and heinous act of provocation" - took place.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman has been quoted as saying: "As the diplomats vigorously resisted, they grabbed the diplomatic package using physical violence and made off".

While it remains unclear exactly what was in the package or if the delegation had diplomatic immunity, there has been growing wariness around North Korean baggage and shipments since the poisoning of leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother at a Malaysian airport in February.

"This clearly shows that the U.S.is a felonious and lawless gangster state".

The North Korean statement contained the usual bluster and threats of KCNA statements which called the act a "literal mugging", and said that NY is rampant with outrageous muggings. "The package in question had no protection from inspection".

He added that the communist state "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.

"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 U.S. State Department defines a diplomatic pouch as any properly identified and sealed pouch, envelope, bag or other container that is used to transport official correspondence, documents and other articles intended for official use between embassies, legations, consular posts and foreign offices of any government.

Last week, North Korea returned United States university student Otto Warmbier to his family in a coma, more than a year after he was sentenced to 15 years' hard labour for stealing a propaganda item.

US President Donald Trump has made "solving" the peninsula's problem a top priority for his administration.

City Councilman Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island) said of the North Koreans: "Given their explanation of Warmbier's condition, I wouldn't rush to judgment".

Mr. Warmbier was arrested as he was attempting to leave Pyongyang that year, charged with committing "hostile acts" against the regime after stealing a propaganda poster from his hotel.