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North Korea slams U.S. for protecting raiders of Spain embassy in 2019 case


A Spanish National Police car is seen outside the North Korea’s embassy in Madrid, Spain February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

North Korea criticized the U.S. for refusing to extradite a man who was accused of staging a break-in at North Korea’s embassy in Spain in 2019, saying Washington was protecting terrorism, state media KCNA reported on Tuesday.

The North Korean embassy in Madrid issued a statement marking the fourth anniversary of the raid, during which a group of men bound and gagged staff for hours before driving off with computers and other devices.

Pyongyang denounced the incident as a “grave breach of sovereignty and terrorist attack” but accused the U.S. of not investigating the group thoroughly and refusing to extradite its leader, Christopher Ahn, calling it a violation of international law.

Ahn, a former U.S. Marine who had worked as a human rights activist, was arrested in Los Angeles in April 2019 but freed on $1.3 million bail three months later.

“Ahn must be severely punished as he inflicted severe mental, physical and material damage on the members of the diplomatic staff and their families,” the embassy said in a statement carried by KCNA.

“But the U.S. is openly protecting and encouraging acts of terrorism against our citizens abroad based on groundless claims,” it added.

The embassy called Washington’s behaviour “daylight robbery” and “gangster,” demanding it provide a formal apology and compensation and arrest and extradite the raiders.

Spanish authorities identified the intruders as members of a group called Cheollima Civil Defense, or Free Joseon, which seeks the overthrow of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and sought Ahn’s extradition.

The group had acknowledged it was behind the break-in but said its members were invited inside.

U.S. court documents showed that the raiders took computers, hard drives and a mobile phone from the embassy and handed them over to the FBI after fleeing to the U.S. The FBI gave the items to Spanish authorities who eventually returned them to the embassy.

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