Spanish judge issues warrant for North Korea embassy intruders: source

March 27, 2019

MADRID (Reuters) – A Spanish judge has issued international arrest warrants for two of the intruders who forced their way into North Korea’s embassy in Madrid last month and are currently believed to be in the United States, a judicial source said on Wednesday.

The warrants were issued for the group leader and another suspect after an investigation by a Spanish court found that they broke into the embassy, tried to persuade an official to defect and then stole computer equipment.

The suspected leader has been identified by the court in an official document as Adrian Hong Chang, a Mexican who is a U.S. resident. The other suspect sought in the arrest warrant is Sam Ryu, who is a U.S. citizen of Korean descent.

According the court’s official document, which was made public on Tuesday, Hong Chang is believed to have traveled to the United States a day after the raid and contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to pass on information about it. It was not clear how the court knew that the man had contacted the FBI.

Other judicial sources told Reuters the two arrest warrants are likely to be the first of many more since the group of intruders is believed to have had 10 members. The other suspects include South Korean citizens.

The U.S. State Department has said the U.S. government was not involved in the raid while the FBI said it is standard practice to neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation.

Three of the intruders took an embassy official into the basement and encouraged him to defect from North Korea. They identified themselves as members of a group who campaigned for the “liberation of North Korea”, the document said.

The Spanish court document gave a detailed account of the intruders’ movements before as well as during the intrusion, including their stay in a hotel and purchases of knives, balaclava masks and fake guns.

The embassy raid occurred shortly before the Feb. 27-28 summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi.

The group kept embassy staff tied up for several hours and then searched the premises for arms before leaving, at which point they separated into four groups and headed to Portugal.

Hong Chang then flew from Lisbon to New York.

In Spain the High Court has the power to investigate criminal offences, after which formal accusations are launched.

(Reporting By Belén Carreño and Isla Binnie, writing by Axel Bugge, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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