American citizen Arturo Pierre Martinez, raised in El Paso, Texas, on Sunday appeared at a press conference in North Korea to denounce U.S. foreign and domestic policy.
At the press conference, Martinez admited that he had illegally entered North Korea, his second attempt to enter the Communist country, but 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."
According to CNN, he then "went on to criticize 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, but criminally plundering entire nations of their resources, strategic reserves and economies instead of smaller scale business and individuals, and does so without a code of ethics," he said.
Martinez also railed against the U.S. electoral system, saying it was built only for the wealthy, and said America's billionaires "are nothing short of sociopathic megalomaniacs on the path to absolute world domination."
But Martinez also discussed "unidentified flying objects, CIA involvement in the cocaine trade, 'ultrasonic' devices that cause people to hear voices and experience bodily discomfort."
Martinez's mother, Patricia Eugenia Martinez, said in a statement that her son is mentally ill. After a previous attempt to cross into North Korea, he was sent to a California mental institute, she said, from which he escaped.
"I'm glad and relieved that my son is safe," she said in a statement to CNN. "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."
Whether Martinez is free to leave North Korea if he chooses remains uncertain. His pardon also is curious, given the fate of another American who recently attempted to defect to North Korea. Earlier this year, Matthew Todd Miller attempted to claim "political asylum" in the country during a tour. He found himself initially unwanted, then placed under arrest. Miller and fellow American prisoner Kenneth Bae were released back to the United States in November after negotiations between the North Koreans and U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.