Associated Press and Ken Dilanian and Dan De Luce and Josh Lederman2019-03-31 07:35:00
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By Associated Press
North Korea said Sunday it wants an investigation into a raid on its embassy in Spain last month, calling it a “grave terrorist attack” and an act of extortion that violates international law.
The incident occurred ahead of President Donald Trump’s second summit with leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi on Feb. 27-28. A mysterious group calling for the overthrow of the North Korean regime has claimed responsibility.
The group says it handed over data stolen from the raid to the FBI, and a law enforcement source familiar with the matter confirmed to NBC News that the bureau has received the information.
The North’s official media quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying that an illegal intrusion into and occupation of a diplomatic mission and an act of extortion are a grave breach of the state sovereignty and a flagrant violation of international law, “and this kind of act should never be tolerated.”
He claimed an armed group tortured the staff and suggested they stole communications gear.
Spanish authorities have accused a 10-member gang of entering the embassy on Feb. 22 under a false pretext, beating and tying up the staff, trying unsuccessfully to persuade an accredited North Korean diplomat to defect, and making off with computers and digital files.
The anti-regime group, Free Joseon, or Free Korea, has claimed responsibility for the intrusion, though it denies beating or gagging any of the embassy personnel. The group, also known as Cheollima Civil Defense, portrays itself as a movement to liberate North Korea from an “immoral and illegitimate regime.”
The group said on Tuesday it had no contact with any foreign government before the intrusion but said it had offered information of “enormous potential value to the FBI” after the raid.
Spain has issued two international arrest warrants in the case, one for a Mexican national residing in the U.S., Adrian Hong Chang, and the other for an American citizen. After lifting a secrecy order in the case, a Spanish investigating judge revealed the identities of seven of the alleged 10 intruders in a court document on Tuesday.
It remained unclear if the Spanish government identified the suspects in the raid through their own investigation or whether U.S. authorities had passed on the names of the alleged intruders.
The group has alleged the U.S. betrayed its trust after members approached the FBI.
“The organization shared certain information of enormous potential value with the FBI in the United States, under mutually agreed terms of confidentiality,” the group said on its website. “This information was shared voluntarily and on their request, not our own. Those terms appear to have been broken.”