WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A dissident organization that pledged to overthrow North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was behind a raid on the North Korean embassy in Spain last month. The Washington Post reported Friday that people familiar with planning and conducting the mission have been cited.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wants to board a train to North Korea on March 2, 2019 at Dong Dang Station in Vietnam. REUTERS / Kim Kyung-Hoon
The newspaper, which did not further identify its sources, identified the group as Cheollima Civil Defense, also known as Free Joseon. The group became known in 2017 after evacuating a nephew of Kim from Macau when potential threats to his life emerged.
The Post sources said the group had not worked with governments, and that US intelligence services had withdrawn before the second summit meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump on February 2 in Hanoi before the second mission summit. 27-28.
Spanish media reports, widely acknowledged by a Spanish Foreign Ministry source, sent a group of unidentified men to the North Korean embassy in Madrid on February 22, hired tied and gagged staff, and started using computers four hours later.
No responsibility was claimed.
The Washington Post identified a dissident group that could not be used for comment, and its alleged website did not mention involvement in the raid.
On February 25, the site released a statement stating that the group had "received a request for help from comrades in a particular Western country" and "it was a most dangerous situation, but (we responded)." The group said an important announcement would do so This week it will come, but no details on an operation have been released.
At the Madrid Embassy, Kim Hyok Chol, North Korea's chief negotiator in negotiations with the United States, was ambassador by 2017.
Intelligence officials said computers and phones reported to be seized during the raid would be rigorously requested by foreign intelligence agencies, as they may contain information about Kim Hyok Chol and others.
Asked about the Washington Post report, the US State Department sent inquiries to the Spanish authorities. The CIA declined to comment.
Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Additional reporting by Josh Smith and Joyce Lee in Seoul; Edited by Grant McCool