April 22, 2019 11:49
Police in Los Angeles last Thursday arrested a Korean-American ex-Marine named Christopher Ahn for his suspected involvement in a daredevil raid on the North Korean Embassy in Madrid in February.
Officers also raided the home of Adrian Hong Chang, who has been identified as the leader of the raid, but he was out.
This is the first arrest in connection with the raid. The U.S. government has distanced itself from the incident and denied any responsibility, though the shadowy guerrilla group called Free Joseon that carried it out said it handed over materials it took from the embassy to the FBI. The group later complained of "betrayal" from the FBI for leaking its involvement.
Lee Wolosky, an attorney for Free Joseon, said the group was "dismayed" by the arrests. Ahn is a U.S. citizen, while Hong holds a Mexican passport and a U.S. residency permit. Wolosky told the Chosun Ilbo on Sunday that he believes U.S. law enforcement officials were tracking other Free Joseon members. Ahn was arraigned in a Los Angeles federal court last Friday.
Wolosky said Ahn played a pivotal role in rescuing Kim Han-sol, the son of Kim Jong-un's half-brother Kim Jong-nam who was assassinated by North Korean agents in Kuala Lumpur.
His name was not included on a list of suspects drawn up by a Spanish court after the embassy raid. But AP reported that Ahn's name surfaced later in the investigation and Spanish authorities issued an international arrest warrant for him and another man named Sam Ryu late last month.
The warrant gave the U.S. little choice but to make the arrest. It is a setback for Free Joseon, which seems to have been enjoying a degree of impunity in its campaigns against the North Korean regime, and could end up revealing the names of other members during proceedings.
Nam Joo-hong at Kyonggi University said, "The U.S. appears to be sending a message to Spain that it respects the laws of its allies and to North Korea that it has nothing to do with Free Joseon and wishes to continue dialogue."
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