Spain: North Korea embassy raiders offered stolen data to FBI | News | DW | 27.03.2019
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Spain: North Korea embassy raiders offered stolen data to FBI

An activist group allegedly broke into the North Korean Embassy in Madrid and urged an envoy to defect. The US government has denied involvement in the incident, which took place shortly before a US-North Korea summit.

The leader of a North Korean dissident group raided the North Korean Embassy in Madrid last month and offered stolen materials to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a Spanish court has said.

Mexican citizen Adrian Hong Chang contacted "the FBI in New York five days after the assault to facilitate information related to the incident in the embassy," Spain's National Court said Tuesday.

Chang led a "criminal organization" that identified itself as a "movement of human rights for the liberation of North Korea," National Court Judge Jose de la Mata said in a written report after lifting a secrecy order on the case.

Mysterious raid

The gang allegedly broke into the embassy on February 22, shackled and gagged employees, and ran off with computers, hard drives and other documents.

President Donald Trump meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (picture-alliance/E. Vucci)

Chang allegedly offered the FBI stolen materials days before a Trump-Kim meeting in Vietnam

They also urged the embassy's commercial attache, So Yun Sok, to defect, de la Mata said. The assailants allegedly gagged So after he refused.

The next day, Chang flew to the United States and offered FBI investigators unspecified documents, the court report said, without elaborating on whether the FBI accepted the material.

Dissidents claim responsibility

De la Mata said Spanish authorities were investigating US, Mexican and South Korean citizens on charges of bodily harm, making threats and burglary.

Spain issued international arrest warrants for Chang and one of his accomplices, according to the AP news agency.

Cheollima Civil Defense, a North Korean dissident group, claimed responsibility for the incursion on Tuesday but denied carrying out an attack.

US denies involvement

The incident took place days before a meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Kim Hyok Chol (picture-alliance/Yonhap)

Kim Hyok Chol was North Korea's ambassador to Spain before becoming a nuclear negotiator

The timing fueled speculation that the group was trying to get information on North Korea's former ambassador to Spain. Kim Hyok Chol became North Korea's top nuclear negotiator in talks with the United States after he was expelled as ambassador in September 2017.

Asked about Chang's offer, the FBI said that it never comments on an investigation and that it "enjoys a strong working relationship with our Spanish law enforcement partners."

The US State Department denied that Washington was involved in the break-in. "The United States government had nothing to do with this," a spokesman said.

North Korea has not yet commented on the raid.

amp/se (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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