An American citizen has appeared at a news conference in North Korea to denounce U.S. domestic and foreign policy and its human rights record.
Twenty-nine-year-old Arturo Pierre Martinez from El Paso, Texas, told reporters in Pyongyang he entered North Korea illegally and wants to seek asylum in Venezuela.
“My name is Arturo Pierre Martinez, I’m a 29-year-old U.S. citizen born and bred in the city of El Paso, in the state of Texas,” he said. “I have taken up a risky journey to the DPRK so that I can pass on some very valuable and disturbing information I felt that its government would appreciate.”
It was not clear how he got into North Korea or whether he will be allowed to leave the country. Pyongyang is reported to have said he entered the country from China last month.
Martinez’ mother, Patricia Martinez, told CNN her son is bipolar and that he had traveled to China in November, shortly after his release from a psychiatric hospital.
The U.S. State Department says it is aware that an American has crossed into North Korea and stands ready to provide consular assistance.
It said the welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is a top priority and repeated warnings against travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea.
North Korea has released three other Americans in recent months, including two who were in the country on tourist visas