WASHINGTON – The United States has begun extradition proceedings of the only person who was detained in relation to an attack on the North Korean embassy in Madrid.
US citizen Christopher Philip Ahn, 38, was arrested on April 18 and will remain in custody without bail until his extradition case is resolved as he poses “a significant flight risk,” the court said.
Spain’s National Court has charged Ahn with breaking and entering, illegal restraint, making threats, robbery with violence and intimidation, causing injuries and criminal organization.
A spokesperson for the US Justice Department told EFE that “according to the extradition treaty between the US and Spain, any person who is finally extradited from Spain in accordance with a valid extradition request for alleged crimes committed in Spain will have all due process (rights).”
According to the court documents that were made public on Tuesday, Ahn, a former marine, traveled from the US to Spain on Feb. 22.
That same day, in coordination with another six individuals, Ahn allegedly raided the North Korean embassy in Madrid, tied up and beat the diplomatic staff for hours and decamped with computers and equipment.
Among those gagged was Yu Sok So, North Korea’s charge d’affaires in Madrid, who the attackers allegedly unsuccessfully urged to defect.
The Cheollima Civil Defense or the Free Joseon (Free Korea), which is committed to overthrowing the Kim dynasty in North Korea, has claimed responsibility for the attack.
In addition to Ahn, Spain has also requested the US to extradite Adrian Hong Chang, who is considered the ringleader and holds a Mexican passport.
Hong Chang returned to the US via Lisbon the day after the attack and met with the FBI in New York and Los Angeles, to whom he handed over part of the stolen material and revealed that Ahn was part of the gang.
The US authorities have yet to reveal Hong Chang’s whereabouts.
The Spanish court’s order maintains that there are five persons with South Korean passports linked to the assault and that at least three of them fled to the US (where it is believed they reside) after the attack.
Hong’s attorney Lee Wolosky issued a statement in which he expressed his disappointment that the Justice Department had decided to issue arrest warrants against US citizens based on complaints filed by North Korea.