Published: Fri, March 15, 2019
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Madrids N Korea embassy assailants linked to CIA

"Although most of the [attackers] were Korean, at least two of them have been identified by Spanish intelligence services as having links to the US CIA", it said.

Spanish investigators ruled out the possibility that the attack was by common criminals as the attackers knew what they were looking for, taking only computers and cellphones.

Although the majority of the assailants, who sped away in two of the embassy's cars before vanishing, have been identified as Koreans, two "have been recognised by Spanish secret services as being linked with the CIA", "El Pais" reported yesterday. Not only would it mean that the United States agency had operated on Spanish soil without asking for authorization or informing the authorities, it would also be a violation of the worldwide conventions that protect diplomatic delegations.

"The operation was perfectly planned as if it were carried out by a military cell, '"El País reported, citing sources close to the ongoing investigation". The CIA has denied any involvement but government sources say their response was "unconvincing".

According to reporting from the BBC, ten masked men broke into the embassy in the middle of the afternoon and took at least eight staffers hostage.

The attackers had bound the staff, placing bags over their heads and beating them as they searched for files.

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El Pais also reported that officials believe the goal of the attack was to get information on Kim Hyok Chol, an envoy for the working-level talks for the second US-North Korea summit in Vietnam late last month. The victims were beaten and interrogated.

Since 2017, when Kim Hyok Chol was expelled from Spain as "persona non grata" after nuclear tests and missile firings by Pyongyang, the secretive state has had diplomatic representation in Madrid but no ambassador.

But when officers arrived they were greeted by an Asian man at the door who reassured them that all was well and nothing had happened.

Both cars were found abandoned nearby shortly afterwards.

El País pointed out that the robbery took place five days before Donald Trump's second summit with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

A court in Madrid is in charge of the investigation into the break-in. The meeting, aimed at securing North Korea's nuclear disarmament, ended in failure without any agreement on a timetable for disarmament or on future negotiations.

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