Anti-Pyongyang group claims responsibility for raid on N.K. Embassy in Spain: Yonhap

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2019-03-27 12:38 Updated : 2019-03-27 12:38
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The North Korean embassy in Madrid. [AP/Yonhap News Photo]

SEOUL -- A mysterious anti-North Korea group has claimed it carried out last month's raid on North Korea's Embassy in Spain and shared some information with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States.

On February 22, a group of unidentified intruders broke into the North Korean Embassy in the Spanish capital, tied embassy staff up, searched the compound and ran away with computers and documents about four hours later, according to news reports. Spain has issued two international arrest warrants for members of the group, according to reports.

On Tuesday, Free Joseon, a mysterious organization calling itself a provisional government representing North Korean people, claimed responsibility. Previously known as Cheollima Civil Defense, the group has widely been reported to be providing protection for Kim Han-sol, the son of Kim Jong-nam, the assassinated half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

"This was not an attack. We responded to an urgent situation in the Madrid embassy. We were invited into the embassy, and contrary to reports, no one was gagged or beaten," the group said in a statement posted on its website Tuesday evening (Coordinated Universal Time). "All occupants in the embassy were treated with dignity and necessary caution," it said.

The group also said "there were no other governments involved with or aware of" its activity "until after the event," yet claimed that some of the information it obtained was shared with the FBI. "The organization shared certain information of enormous potential value with the FBI in the United States, under mutually agreed terms of confidentiality," it said. "This information was shared voluntarily and on their request, not our own."

The information was leaked to the press, it said, denouncing the leak as a profound betrayal of trust. "To share information that may help identify any of us who take risks to protect others is to aid and abet the regime in Pyongyang. The leaks and breaches of trust were abhorrent acts pursued in the name of political expediency, in service to a regime who has tortured and killed millions," it said.

A court report on the Spanish investigation cited by media reports, however, indicated that the group first offered to share material and videos with federal investigators.