US judge releases suspect in attack on North Korean embassy in Madrid
Entrance of the North Korean embassy in Madrid, Spain, Aug. 31, 2017. EPA-EFE/FILE/MARISCAL
The entrance of the North Korean embassy in Madrid, Spain, Aug. 31, 2017 EPA-EFE/FILE/MARISCAL
An outside view of the Embassy of North Korea building in Madrid, Spain, Mar. 27, 2019. EPA-EFE/FILE/VICTOR LERENA
Los Angeles, USA, Jul 9 (efe-epa).- A federal judge in the United States on Tuesday released on bail the only person arrested to date in relation to an illegal raid on North Korea's embassy in Spain, according to documents of the case accessed by EFE.
US citizen Christopher Philip Ahn, 38, a former US Marine, was released after posting bail of $1.3 million, although he will have to remain under house arrest as he still faces a possible extradition to Spain to be tried for his alleged participation in the raid on the North Korean embassy in Madrid on Feb. 22.
Asked by EFE, a spokesperson of the US Department of Justice refused to comment on the matter as it was a provisional ruling.
Ahn's release was decreed by Los Angeles-based federal judge Jean P. Rosenbluth.
In addition to posting the bail amount, which was done by friends of the accused, Ahn has also surrendered his passport to the US authorities and promised not to apply for any other travel permit to leave the country while the case is open.
The judge also warned Ahn that if he tries to flee, his relatives or friends could face charges.
During the attack on the North Korean embassy in Madrid, the assailants – seven men – tied up and beat the diplomatic staff for hours and left after stealing computers and equipment.
The attackers allegedly belong to the Cheollima Civil Defense group, also known as "Free Joseon," an organization committed to overthrowing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
After the crime, the perpetrators fled to the United States, which is why Spain has requested the extradition of Ahn, who was arrested on Apr. 18, and of another man identified as Hong Chang, who is considered the ringleader and holds a Mexican passport.
Spain's national court has charged Ahn and Chang with breaking and entering, illegal restraint, making threats, robbery with violence and intimidation, causing injuries and membership in a criminal organization.
After Ahn's arrest, Hong's attorney, Lee Wolosky, issued a statement in which he expressed his disappointment that the US Justice Department had decided to issue arrest warrants against US citizens based on complaints filed by North Korea.