US authorities make arrest in raid on the North Korean Embassy in Madrid

Man detained in California over February raid

By David Shortell, CNN
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

A flag of North Korea waves in the wind on a post at the North Korean Embassy on March 27, 2019, in Madrid, Spain.

(CNN) - Federal authorities arrested a man in California Thursday in connection with a brazen February raid on the North Korean Embassy in Madrid.

Christopher Ahn was taken into custody by US Marshals Thursday in Los Angeles, according to a spokesman for the agency. A law enforcement official said his arrest is connected to the violent raid of the diplomatic compound in Spain that took place just days before President Donald Trump's second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Ahn made an initial appearance Friday in Los Angeles federal court, and was remanded in to custody, according to a spokesman for the US attorney's office in Los Angeles.

News of Ahn's arrest was first reported by The Washington Post.

Cheollima Civil Defense, a North Korean dissident group, has claimed responsibility for the February raid.

Last month, Spanish judicial authorities described how a group of 10 broke into the embassy and began to "violently strike its occupants" and detain and handcuff them.

It is not clear what Ahn has been charged with and his case remains under seal. A posting on the Los Angeles federal court's website that officials said belonged to Ahn listed it only as an extradition case, and Matthew Cordova, the US Marshals spokesman, said the arrest was made on a provisional warrant from Madrid.

A public defender listed for Ahn did not respond to a request for comment. Ahn is due back in court for a detention hearing on Tuesday.

Authorities this week also raided the apartment of the leader of Cheollima Civil Defense, a Mexican national and US resident named Adrian Hong, according to the Washington Post.

An attorney for Hong said he was "dismayed" that the Justice Department had "decided to execute warrants against US persons that derive from criminal complaints filed by the North Korean regime."

"The last US citizen who fell into the custody of the Kim regime returned home maimed from torture and did not survive. We have received no assurances from the US government about the safety and security of the US nationals it is now targeting," said Lee Wolosky, Hong's attorney, in a statement.

He was referring to Otto Warmbier, the American college student who died in 2017 after over a year in North Korean detention.

A spokesman for the Justice Department said, "While we will not comment on this particular matter at this time, we would note that extradition treaties generally provide that an individual who has been extradited to another country to face criminal charges cannot thereafter be extradited to a third country without the consent of the original country."

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