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Anti-North Korea group Free Joseon calls for release of ex-U.S. Marine

By
Elizabeth Shim
Christopher Ahn, a former U.S. Marine, entered the North Korea Embassy in Madrid on February 22. Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Justice
Christopher Ahn, a former U.S. Marine, entered the North Korea Embassy in Madrid on February 22. Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Justice

May 30 (UPI) -- The anti-Pyongyang group that has been identified as a North Korea government-in-exile is calling for the release of a suspect linked to a raid on the North Korean Embassy in Spain.

Free Joseon, sometimes known as Cheollima Civil Defense, said in a statement published Wednesday to its proprietary website it is seeking the release of Christopher Ahn, and the cancellation of an arrest warrant for Adrian Hong.

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According to Free Joseon, Hong and Ahn were responsible for the rescue of Kim Han Sol, the son of assassinated Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"We call for the immediate release of Christopher Ahn and for the end to the pursuit of Adrian Hong. Their work on behalf of 25 million enslaved and silent North Korean citizens must continue with the resumption of their freedom," the group said.

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U.S. authorities have suggested they are pursuing Hong, a Mexican passport holder and U.S. resident, because they believe he is "armed and dangerous."

Ahn, a former U.S. Marine, was arrested in April in Los Angeles.

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"Adrian Hong and Christopher Ahn are true heroes who took great risks and have made many other personal sacrifices for many years to help and rescue those not blessed with freedom," Free Joseon said in its most recent statement.

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According to Spanish authorities, the two men entered the Spanish embassy in February -- tying up North Korean Embassy staff then leaving the area, taking with them flash drives and hard drives containing classified North Korean information.

Free Joseon has said the data was shared with the FBI.

"The provisional government of Free Joseon and its members, including Adrian Hong and Christopher Ahn, have never received funding from foreign government agencies," the group said this week.

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Kim Han Sol has appeared in videos, uploaded to YouTube, confirming he is safe, following the assassination of his father in 2017.

Chosun Ilbo reported Wednesday he appeared in a video clip released to South Korean television on Tuesday, expressing thanks to Hong, also known as Adrian Hong Chang, for the rescue.

Hong co-founded Liberty in North Korea, an international NGO, before he left the organization to pursue other activities.

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