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27 Mar, 2019 00:16

Raiders of N. Korean Embassy in Spain offered stolen docs to FBI, used 'Trump' alias – court papers

Raiders of N. Korean Embassy in Spain offered stolen docs to FBI, used 'Trump' alias – court papers

The leader of a self-described dissident group that attacked the staff of the North Korean Embassy in Madrid, stealing troves of documents, fled to the US and offered the files to the FBI, court papers say.

A group of 10 men raided the North Korean Embassy in Madrid on February 22. The intruders bound and gagged staff, placed hoods over their heads and interrogated the chief of the mission before escaping with hard drives, flash drives and documents.

A 14-page summary of the case, which is being investigated by Spanish police, sheds light on details of the brazen attack and on the identity of the perpetrators. The document, seen by El Pais and a number of other outlets, identifies the leader of the gang as Adrian Hong Chang, a US resident and Mexican national.

The court documents suggest that the crime was carefully plotted by Hong Chang, who had stocked up on combat knives, mock pistols, tactical flashlights, balaclavas, and handcuffs in preparation for the assault. Moreover, Hong Chang got to know the head of the North Korean mission, So Yun Sok, before the attack. The gang leader posed as a potential investor in the North Korean economy during their previous encounter, El Pais reported, citing court documents.

Apparently, security staff let Hong Chang into the embassy – in a statement claiming responsibility for the attack on Wednesday, self-styled human rights group Cheollima Civil Defense said they had been 'invited' by someone from inside the mission. The group, which calls for the overthrow of the North Korean government, insisted the raid was not coordinated with any government.

Spanish police reportedly had a chance to thwart the attack as it was still underway, but were tricked by the gang leader. The wife of one of the embassy workers jumped from a window as events were unfolding and was spotted by neighbors who called medics and the police. But when police officers came to the embassy door, they were greeted by Hong Chang himself, posing as a North Korean diplomat. He assured the officers that there was no reason to worry, a response that was apparently enough to ward off further inquiry.

Shortly afterwards, eight of the gang members left the embassy, dashing away in four diplomatic cars, while Hong Chang and another of his associates stayed a little longer, eventually leaving the building through a back door and booking a rental car under the alias 'Oswald Trump.' Not wasting any time, Hong Chang flew to Lisbon using his Mexican passport and was in New Jersey on February 23. He then contacted the FBI and offered the stolen data. It is unclear if the US intelligence accepted the 'gift.'

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Asked to comment on the alleged contact with the group leader, the FBI said that it would not confirm or deny the report.

The US State Department dismissed allegations that Washington might have been involved in the assault on the embassy and the subsequent events.

Although the US keeps denying any links to the bizarre attack on the embassy, an earlier report citing Spanish investigative sources alleged that at least two of the perpetrators were connected with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The incident played out just before the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was about to begin in Hanoi, prompting speculation that it might have been an attempt, though crude by CIA standards, to collect intelligence on North Korean diplomat Kim Hyok Cho, a former ambassador to Spain and a key figure in the summit negotiations.

Spain's National Court judge Jose De la Mata issued two arrest warrants for perpetrators, naming a Mexican, an American and a South Korean citizen as the main suspects. It is believed that the majority of the gang members are outside Spain.

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