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PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Korea on Sunday presented to the media an American who says he illegally crossed into the country but has not been put into custody and is seeking asylum in Venezuela. Arturo Pierre Martinez, 29, of El Paso, Texas, said he entered North Korea by crossing the river border with China. Details of how and when he got into the country were not immediately clear.
In his comments to reporters, Martinez strongly criticized the U.S. for alleged human rights violations. He made the statement at the People's Palace of Culture, which North Korean authorities have used in recent years for press conferences where they present North Korean defectors who have returned to North Korea, or on at least one occasion, a South Korean citizen who was detained in North Korea.
His comments came amid North Korea's own loud protests of a resolution in the United Nations that could open the door for its leaders to face charges of crimes against humanity for human rights violations, raising questions of whether Martinez was trotted out to the media for propaganda purposes.