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article imageOp-Ed: US authorities arrest ex-marine in regard to attack on NK embassy

By Ken Hanly     Apr 24, 2019 in Crime
Los Angeles - US authorities have arrested a former US marine for alleged involvement in an attack on the North Korea embassy in Madrid last February 22nd.
Free Joseon
The man arrested has been identified as Christopher Ahn. He is a US citizen of Korean origin and is said to be a member of Free Joseon, a group that opposes the North Korean regime of Kim Jong-un.
Ahn arrest
Ahn was arrested on Thursday and he appeared the next day at a court in Los Angeles. Lee Wolosky Ahn's lawyer said that he was dismayed that the US Justice Department had executed warrants against US persons that derive from criminal complaints filed by North Korea. However, this just omits the fact that it is a Spanish judge from Spain's High Court who issued the international search-and-arrest warrants for those identified as taking part in the raid, not North Korea.
Judge Jose de la Mata is in charge of the investigation into the February attack on the embassy.
The February 22 North Korea embassy raid
According to reports a group of 10 men are said to have broken into the NK embassy in Madrid. Reports claim that they beat and interrogated embassy staff and stole pen drives, two computers, two hard drives with one containing security images and a cell phone. The ringleader of the group is alleged to have been Adrian Hong, a US resident but with a Mexican passport.
The attackers were able to leave the embassy after the attack without being arrested and flee to the US as described in a recent Digital Journal article. An embassy staff member escaped through an upstairs window and alerted police, but the police were met at the embassy door apparently by Hong who convinced them everything was OK.
Spanish authorities claim Hong contacted the FBI when he arrived in New Jersey to provide them with the stolen information. The FBI failed to relay this information to Spanish authorities until a few days later. There has been no arrest of Hong so far but his apartment has been raided by US federal agents. Hong is one of those identified as involved in the raids and there is an international arrest warrant out for him.
The alleged purpose of the attack
The attack happened at a sensitive time, just days before the summit in Hanoi between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US president Donald Trump. The summit failed as the two did not reach any agreement.
The alleged purpose of the attack was to persuade the commercial attache, formerly a close collaborator to the former North Korean ambassador to Spain to defect. However, the attackers were unable to convince the attache to defect. A State Dept. spokesperson said the US government had nothing to do with the raid.
Connection of the attack to the CIA
Two weeks after the attack it was reported by El Pais that the police and National Intelligence Agency had identified at least two of the attacks as being linked to the US Central Intelligence Agency even though Free Joseon issued a press release saying that "no other governments were involved with or aware of our activity until after the event". Other than what government? Or is it meant to read "no governments"? The group did confirm it shared information with the FBI. The group also claimed "no one was gagged or beaten" and apologized for any inconveniences caused to the Spanish government. They did not mention the stolen equipment.
Why did the US arrest Ahn?
Perhaps the US does not want to offend the Spanish government. It remains to be seen if he will be extradited to Spain. However, why did they not arrest Hong who was probably the leader?
The US may be attempting to show that they were not involved in the attack. Perhaps they were not involved and are annoyed that they do not control the group so that they want to teach them a lesson. But then why not sacrifice Hong as well? Perhaps he is too important to them.
If the US were involved they may have arrested Ahn to convince Spanish authorities that they weren't. But if they do not also arrest and extradite Hong this won't be very convincing. The next few days should indicate what the US is ultimately going to do and to see if there is any consistency to US actions.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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