North Korea accuses US authorities of 'mugging' diplomats at New York airport

North Korea, led by dictator Kim Jong Un, has accused the US of being a "lawless gangster state".

North Korea, led by dictator Kim Jong Un, has accused the US of being a "lawless gangster state".

North Korea has accused US authorities of "mugging" its diplomats at the John F. Kennedy airport in New York, forcibly confiscating a diplomatic package which it said raised questions about the city as the seat of the United Nations.

North Korea's Foreign Ministry spokesman said a delegation returning from a UN conference on the rights of persons with disabilities "was literally mugged" at the John F. Kennedy airport in "an illegal and heinous act of provocation".

"Diplomats of a sovereign state are being robbed of a diplomatic package in the middle of New York where the headquarters of the United Nations is located and that serves as the venue for international meetings including the United Nations General Assembly," the spokesman said.

"This clearly shows that the US is a felonious and lawless gangster state," the spokesman said in comments carried by the North's official KCNA news agency.

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"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," KCNA said.

The US State Department and White House had no immediate comment on the North Korean statement.

KCNA said the incident took place on June 16 when more than 20 officials who claimed to be from the US Department of Homeland Security and police "made a violent assault like gangsters to take away the diplomatic package from the diplomats".

The diplomats were in possession of a valid diplomatic courier certificate, KCNA said.

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The claim comes amid diplomatic tensions after North Korea released American student Otto Warmbier whose parents said he was in a coma after being held by the reclusive state for 17 months.

Warmbier, 22, who arrived in the US on Tuesday [Wednesday NZ Time], is stable but "shows no sign of understanding language, responding to verbal commands or awareness of his surrounding", a doctor at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said.

The UN Security Council has imposed sanctions against North Korea for its nuclear and ballistic missile activities.

North Korea, which is a member state of the United Nations, has rejected the resolutions as infringements of its right to self defence and space exploration.

 - Reuters

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