By Ken Schwartz
Spain is seeking extradition from the United States as many as 10 people who burst into the North Korean embassy in Madrid last month and tried to pass stolen information to the FBI.
A Spanish judge believes all 10 fled to the U.S. after the Feb. 22 raid. He calls them members of a criminal organization and accuses them of trespassing, burglary, assault, and threats.
The leader of the group has been identified as Adrian Hong Chang — a Mexican citizen who is a U.S. resident. Others in the group include American and South Korean citizens.
The suspects call themselves Cheollima Civil Defense and describe the group as a human rights movement working to liberate North Korea.
According to the Spanish court complaint, the 10 barged into the North Korean embassy in Madrid on Feb. 22, wearing full head masks and armed with knives and fake handguns.
They allegedly tied up and gagged the staff while they took a North Korean diplomat into the embassy basement and tried to talk him into defecting.
When the embassy official refused to go with them, they allegedly bound and gagged him too.
Spanish police say an embassy employee managed to jump out of a window and alert officers. Hong Chang posed as a diplomat and assured police everything was fine. The group allegedly escaped with computers and hard drives in a stolen embassy car.
Hong Chang is suspected of attempting to pass the material to the FBI when he arrived in the US.
It is not known if the FBI took the stolen information. The FBI issued a statement saying “it is standard practice to neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation.”
There have been no comments from the Spanish, South Korean, or North Korean governments.
But a State Department spokesman said Tuesday the United States government had nothing to do with the raid.