The man is identified as Arturo Pierre Martinez, 29, of El Paso, Texas
His mother says her son is bipolar and has been in a psychiatric hospital
In a statement, he says he crossed illegally into North Korea
He denounces the American political and economic system in the statement
An American who said he crossed illegally into North Korea gave an unusual press conference in the country on Sunday, where he denounced the U.S. political and economic systems.
The man identified himself as 29-year-old Arturo Pierre Martinez, a U.S. citizen born and raised in El Paso, Texas.
Martinez’s mother, Patricia Eugenia Martinez of El Paso, said her son suffers from bipolar disorder and has previously tried to enter North Korea by swimming across a river. But he was stopped and sent back to the United States, where he was placed in a California psychiatric hospital.
“Then he got out,” she told CNN. “He is very smart, and he got the court to let him out, and instead of coming home to us he bought a ticket and left for China. He took out a payday loan online and left for China.”
She said the U.S. Embassy in Beijing is looking for him.
“He said he wanted to protect Latinos, and he worried about the world and about people,” she said. “He loves to read and write and work on the computer. He loved to help poor people. He is our only child.”
Later she released a statement that said: “I’m glad and relieved that my son is safe. I am appreciative to the North Korean authorities for pardoning my son and releasing him. I look forward to spending Christmas with him after they release him.”
When asked how she knew her son was being released, she said it was from reading the press conference statement.
But the legal status of Martinez in North Korea is unclear and it’s unknown if he’s free to leave the country.
In his 4,000-word statement, Martinez admitted committing a crime by illegally entering the country but said he was “extremely grateful for having been pardoned from the punishments given to violators of these laws, and for the most generous reception I have received.”
He delivered his statement at a press conference he said he requested. Images released by North Korea showed him wearing a suit and sitting in a room facing a large group of people.
North Korea said in a separate statement that Martinez entered the country in November, two days after American diplomat James Clapper arrived. Clapper negotiated the release of Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller, the last two American citizens known to be held by North Korea. They arrived back in the United States on November 8.
Spate of complaints
In his 4,000-word statement, Martinez criticized American politicians and police as well as the electoral and prison systems.
“The illegal war carried out against the nation of Iraq serves as a perfect example of how the U.S. government acts much like a Mafia enterprise … criminally plundering entire nations of their resources, strategic reserves and economies,” he said.
He said the electoral system in the United States “is unfairly built for the benefit of the wealthy through the necessity of costly fundraising for political candidates seeking office. The democracy of this nation is an illusion, and its representatives act as nothing more than power brokers for those who can offer them.”
Of superwealthy Americans, he said, “These billionaires in power are nothing short of sociopathic megalomaniacs on the path to absolute world domination.”
He also talked about unidentified flying objects, the CIA’s alleged involvement in the cocaine trade, “ultrasonic” devices that cause people to hear voices and experience bodily discomfort, and how the Western news media have unfairly portrayed North Korea.