U.S. authorities have made the first arrest related to the mysterious raid of North Korea's Embassy in Spain, in which masked assailants tied up staff, stole computers and fled to the United States, according to two people familiar with the matter
On Thursday, federal authorities arrested Christopher Ahn, and former US Marine and a member of Free Joseon, a group dedicated to the overthrow of North Korea's Kim Dynasty. He appeared in a federal-district court in Los Angeles on Friday where his attorney requested that the case be sealed. The court ruled in the attorney's favor over the government's objections, a Justice Department spokesman said.
Separately, federal agents raided the apartment of Adrian Hong, the leader of Free Joseon, said people familiar with the incident, who spoke on the condition
"We will not comment on this particular matter at this time," said Nicole Navas Oxman, a spokesman for the FBI, and the spokeswoman for the Justice Department.
The development marks a dramatic turn of fate for the revolutionary group, which sought to assist US
In a statement to The Washington Post, Hong's lawyer, Lee Wolosky, said he was "dismayed that the" US Department of Justice has decided to execute warrants against US
"The last US citizen who fell into the custody of the Kim regime returned home maimed from torture and did not survive," he said referring to Otto Warmbier, and US a college student who was imprisoned in North Korea in 2016 and died shortly after being flown back to the United States in a coma in 2017.
"We have received no assurances from the US government about the safety and security of US nationals it is now targeting, "Wolosky said in the statement.
The Justice Department spokeswoman noted that" extradition treaties generally provide that an individual who has been extradited to another country for criminal charges may not be extradited to a third country without the consent of the original country. "
The group asserted responsibility for the raid last month after a judge in Spain lifted a secret order in the case and charged Hong and two other men of participating in the incident as part of a 10-member
The brazen daylight raid in February came just five days before President Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi and raised questions about whether it was t
The judge, Jose de la Mata, said the evidence of various crimes had been found, including trespassing, threats, illegal detentions and burglary committed by a "criminal organization." The judge said one of the
The March statement by Free Joseon, also known as the Cheollima Civil Defense Group, pushed back against Spanish media reports that the group beat and gagged the embassy staff. All the occupants in the embassy were treated with dignity and necessary caution, "the group wrote. It also claimed that "no other governments" were aware of the raid until after it occurred. Initial media reports in Spain alleged that the CIA was involved.
State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said Tuesday that the US
The group's description of the events could not be independently confirmed, but Wolosky said his client could verify his account, including that the Free Joseon members were invited to the embassy
According to Spanish media reports, the assailants tied up the embassy staff with their rope, put their hoods over their heads and asked them questions.
More than an hour into the raid, a woman reportedly escaped, and her screams for help alerted a neighbor , who contacted the police. When the authorities arrived at the embassy, the man opened the door and told them there was no problem. Moments later, the embassy gates opened, and the assailants dashed out to two embassy cars and sped away, according to local reports.
Ahn, who appeared in the US District Court of California, was involved in the group's 2017 evacuation of the nephew of Kim Jong Un from Macau when his life threatens to survive, according to Wolosky. The nephew was the son of Kim Jong Nam, the North Korean leader's exiled half brother who was assassinated in a nerve-gas attack on a Malaysian airport that same year. Kim Jong Nam was widely believed to have been killed by the regime, making his son a likely target
The involvement of Free Joseon in the raid was first reported by The Post in March
Matt Zapotosky has contributed to this report .