The North's Foreign Ministry spokesman said a delegation of the North returning from a United Nations 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".
A U.S. Department of Homeland Security spokesman says its officers seized multiple media items and packages from three North Korean citizens.
"This clearly shows that the U.S. is a felonious and lawless gangster state", he said, adding that the worldwide community should seriously question the prestige of NY as a place where global meetings are held.
"The global community needs to seriously reconsider whether or not NY, where such an outrageous mugging is rampant, is fit to serve as the venue for worldwide meetings", the statement said.
The diplomats were in possession of a valid diplomatic courier certificate, KCNA said.
A United Nations -based official familiar with the situation said that the incident happened when the North Korean officials were waiting at the gate for their flight after completing check-in.
The accusation comes in the wake of Otto Warmbier, a US citizen, being freed from North Korea after being held captive for over a year. So, in format terms, the United States and North Korea are at war, with their political relations staying strained. However, Warmbier, who was healthy at the time of his arrest came back a completely different man and had suffered extensive brain damage during his imprisonment in North Korea.
"This mugging act of the USA serves as a graphic account telling the world how reckless and despicable the US hostile policy towards the DPRK has become", the spokesman said.
Neither the State Department nor White House have yet commented on North Korea's allegations, Reuters noted.
"Whether or not the North Korean account is entirely accurate, their treatment of American student Otto Warmbier takes away North Korea's right to complain about anything", King said.
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