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American accused of attacking North Korean embassy in Spain

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By Andrew Blankstein and Dan De Luce

Spain's case against a US citizen accused of being part of a group that allegedly raided the North Korean Embassy in Madrid with guns and shots and tied up staff before electronics and hard drives broke out became clearer on Tuesday a federal judge in Los Angeles decided to unseal court documents at a court hearing.

The unsealed documents indicate that Christopher Philip Ahn belonged to the group that broke into the embassy in February with knives, iron bars, machetes, and imitation guns, leaving behind a cell phone, computers, and hard disk drives.

Spain hopes to have extradited Ahn, 38, in the alleged attack.

The arrest warrant outside Spain lists half a dozen charges against Ahn, including burglary and entry, illegal restraint, threats, robbery and intimidation, injuries, criminal organization.

The surveillance video of the North Korean Embassy in Spain in Madrid shows that US Navy veteran Christopher Ahn is preparing to enter the embassy on 22 February 2019. Ahn, who is suspected of involvement in a mysterious dissident group in the North Korean Embassy in February, has already been denied the federal judge's bond and must remain in custody.Ministry of Justice via AP file

Judge Jean P. Rosenbluth also ruled that the probable cause for Ahn's arrest was governed by an extradition treaty between Spain and the US, despite the fact that the formal trial of Ahn in Spain has not yet begun and could be lengthy.

The defense lawyer for Ahn had requested that the trial be sealed to protect the defendants' safety as the North Korean regime had hounded opponents and critics.

Ahn, a former US Marine, was arrested on Thursday in California by US Marshals, who recovered a fully loaded caliber .40 caliber caliber .40 caliber pistol and a second magazine of ten. 40 caliber ammunition, according to court documents.

The US law firm argued that Ahn should be taken into federal custody because it was a flight risk and "the serious and violent nature of the alleged crimes, his military training, his familiarity and access to firearms. It found that a bail of some amount could not guarantee its presence in court and could include the possibility of embarrassing the United States.

Supporters of the group responsible for the embassy crackdown, Free Joseon, said they were surprised and disappointed that the US authorities had decided to issue arrest warrants on the basis of the Spanish extradition request, potentially putting at risk Delivery of the defendant increased to the North Korean government.

They also argued that the defendants were human rights lawyers focused on the plight of the North Koreans, who lived under the authoritarian rule of Pyongyang and had no criminal record in the past.

Joseon denied on his website that violence was used when his members entered the embassy in Madrid.

NBC News Investigations reported in March that the opposition group that stormed the North Korean Embassy said it had leaked stolen data to the FBI, and a law enforcement agency familiar with the matter confirmed to NBC News that the office had received the information.

Ahn arrived at Madrid's JFK New York Airport on February 22, according to a complaint for provisional arrest for extradition. Later that day another man, identified as Adrian Hong Chang, came to the North Korean embassy and asked him to see his charges, the diplomat overseeing the embassy. Hong was asked to wait because the person named in the complaint by the owners was Hong Chang on the embassy grounds waiting for a bank.

Hong Chang opened the door to let other members of the group into the compound, and security pictures show Ahn's joining the others, according to the document.

In the complaint, Ahn was identified as part of the group allegedly having one as Y.S.S. identified person had attacked. The group took him to a bathroom and tied his hands behind his back, put a bag over his head and threatened him with iron bars and fake handguns, the lawsuit said. During the incident, the wife of an embassy employee was injured while trying to escape through a patio.

When the Spanish police arrived, Hong Chang appeared on his jacket revolver face-to-face with the North Korean president, representing himself as a responsible person, according to the document. According to reports, he told the police that the police would have to officially inform the consulate if a North Korean had been injured.

Meanwhile, two members of the group identified themselves as members of a human rights group, brought the D affair in a basement and demanded to leave North Korea, it said in the complaint. He refused and allegedly tied him tethered and put a bag over his head.

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