Friday, 23 August, 2019

Anti-Kim Jong-un group says it raided Madrid embassy

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Patty Aguilar | 29 March, 2019, 15:01

Though Hong is a US resident, the Spanish court described him as being a Mexican passport holder in its information release on Tuesday. (Some reports have named that person as Adrian Hong Chang.) The documents also say a us and South Korean citizen are suspected in the break-in.

According to the high court documents, the dissidents, armed with knives and fake guns, forced their way into the embassy and made off with a mobile phone, computers, hard disks and USB pen drives.

The statement by Free Joseon, also known as the Cheollima Civil Defense group, pushed back against Spanish media reports that the group beat and gagged embassy staff.

Asked if Washington had any connection to the embassy break-in, U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Palladino answered, "The United States government had nothing to do with this".

Earlier this month, Channel News Asia reporter Sumisha Naidu tweeted an image showing graffiti on the embassy wall in Madrid following the raid, which appeared similar to the logo displayed on the group's website.

The FBI said in a statement it was "our standard practice to neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation", adding that the agency had a strong working relationship with Spanish law enforcement partners.

In the afternoon of February 22, the statement says, Hong Chang asked to see the business supervisor at the embassy before letting the rest of the group in. Yu Sok So told Spain's police that they were South Korean nationals. The gang leader posed as a potential investor into the North Korean economy during their previous encounter, El Pais reported, citing court documents.

There was no immediate comment on the matter from the U.S. State Department.

A few days later their leader contacted the U.S. agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to pass on information about the raid, a court document said. After Hong Chang posed as a businessman and asked to speak to economics official Yun Sok So, the gang, including a U.S. citizen, stormed the embassy and held the seven people inside hostage for several hours, the judge says.

The break-in on 22 February occurred just days before a key summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, Vietnam.

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In this Wednesday, March 13, 2019 photo, a Spanish postman talks to a member of North Korea's embassy, not seen, in Madrid, Spain.

"It is Adrian (who is) behind this whole Cheollima Civil Defense", they said, corroborating what two other sources told NK News.

The Mexican, Hong Chang, said he carried out the raid voluntarily and did not identify his companions, the court document said.

In the past, the group has said it responded to urgent requests for protection from "compatriots" and has thanked countries including the Netherlands, China and the United States for their help.

On its website, the group used soaring language to declare itself the "a provisional government" of Free Joseon as "the sole legitimate representative of the Korean people of the north".

The group included a United States citizen and South Korean citizens.

The Spanish judge in the newly unsealed case, Judge José de la Mata, says 10 individuals - whom he refers to as a "criminal organization" - were involved in crimes including falsified documents, illegal detention and injuries.

The group said the video had been filmed recently "on our homeland's soil", in what could be a reference to the North Korean Embassy in Madrid.

While in Madrid, Hong Chang also applied for a new passport at the Mexican Embassy, the investigation found, and used the name "Oswaldo Trump" to register in the Uber ride-hailing app.

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