CRISTOPHER Ahn, the former US Marine wanted for his part in the North Korean Embassy raid in Madrid two years ago ‘could face assassination’ if the US grants Spain’s wish for extradition.
Ahn, 40, was part of the group of anti-north Korean group Free Joseon that raided the embassy in Spain’s capital in a effort to help a Korean envoy defect back in 2019.
Iraq veteran Ahn, along with other group members, stormed the embassy and staged an elaborate ‘fake’ kidnapping plan on a number of diplomats to help them escape, however a change in heart by the envoys thwarted the plan and ultimately led to Ahn fleeing Spain to his home country.
Ahn, currently under home confinement on a $1.3 million bail in LA, is due to hear his appeal for extradition back to Spain this week under fears for his safety out of the umbrella of US law.
Spain has requested Ahn for trial and aims to charge him for crimes of illegal entry, assault, illegal confinement, and being part of a criminal organization, and faces up to 24 years in prison.
And under Spain’s agreement with the US over criminal activity, the DOJ has requested that he be expelled to Spain to face trial.
However if the move goes ahead, Ahn claims through his lawyer, he is fearful of his life because of North Korean Kim Jong Un’s history of hunting down defectors on foreign soil.
This is made even more likely as Spain and North Korea have full-fledged diplomatic relations meaning freedom of travel between the two nations.
The saga began in February 2019 when a group of dissidents under the name of Free Joseon, including Ahn entered the Korean Embassy in Madrid to help a number of envoys escape North Korea’s totalitarian regime.
To avoid potential repercussions from Kim Jong Un, the group planned to ‘kidnap’ the workers, thus avoiding any action from their home state.
The group, led by Adrian Hong Chang, entered the building on February 22 and requested to speak with a specific official.
Once Hong Chang was inside and the worker had left, he let the other members inside armed with weapons and fake guns.
Workers at the embassy were hooded, beaten and gagged for several hours as part of the plot, with women and children present shielded from the acts.
At one point, police arrived at the scene, but one of the group members, dressed as an embassy worker wearing a pin featuring the leader of North Korea, turned them away telling them everything was fine inside.
During the raid, some of the workers expressed doubts in defecting to the west, causing the plan to fail and leading to the group to flee in stolen cars, taxi’s and Uber cars.
They left at the scene most of the weapons used, as well as photo evidence of some of the identities of the perpetrators.
Ahn fled to Toledo before heading to Portgual where he then got a flight back to Los Angeles.
Spanish authorities used surveillance footage to identify members of the attack and, after a statement to the FBI from group leader Hong Chang implicated Ahn in the raid, issued an international arrest warrant on Ahn to the US.
Ahn served in the US Marines for 20 years prior to joining the Free Joseon Group and was given honourable discharge before earning an MBA from the University of Virginia.
He had no criminal history at the time of his arrest and works full time as a caregiver to his blind, 98-year-old grandmother in Los Angeles.
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