SEOUL – A shadowy group who claimed responsibility for a raid on the North Korean embassy in Madrid last month announced on Thursday that it was temporarily suspending its activities.
On its website, the Cheollima Civil Defense (CCD) said while preparing for multiple actions aimed at the North Korean regime, the activities of its members are now suspended due to attacks in speculative articles of the press.
The statement comes a day after the CCD, recently renamed Free Joseon (Free Korea), claimed responsibility for a raid on Pyongyang’s embassy in Madrid on Feb. 22 that lasted several hours.
The embassy’s staff was tied up and beaten by a group of 10 armed men, who later decamped with computers and equipment, according to a document published by Spain’s High Court.
But on Wednesday, the CCD said “this was not an attack. We responded to an urgent situation in the Madrid embassy. We were invited into the embassy, and contrary to reports, no one was gagged or beaten. Out of respect for the host nation of Spain, no weapons were used. All occupants in the embassy were treated with dignity and necessary caution.”
The CCD said it was in possession of evidence supporting its account but was unable to share it to “protect those who seek our help, and those who take great risk to protect others” and to avoid turning them into targets of the Pyongyang regime.
However, the CCD said it had “shared certain information of enormous potential value with the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) in the United States, under mutually agreed terms of confidentiality.”
The group’s claims came a day after Madrid judge Jose de la Mata lifted a gag order on the judicial investigation into the incident.
The legal document published on Tuesday identified seven people linked to the attack, including Adrian Hong Chang, a Mexican citizen, and Sam Ryu, a United States citizen.
The judge has asked the US for the extradition of both men.
The organization, which is committed to overthrowing the Kim dynasty, first surfaced online in March 2017 when it claimed it had protected the son of Kim Jong-nam – the half-brother of the North Korean leader – who was murdered at a Kuala Lumpur airport in Feb. 2017.
It has also declared itself a North Korean government in exile and claimed the North’s regime has committed crimes against humanity.