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Retired U.S. Marine defends actions after North Korea Embassy raid

Christopher Ahn, the ex-U.S. marine who helped rescue the son of North Korean-in-exile Kim Jong Nam (pictured), said Kim Han Sol escaped after receiving a warning call. File Photo by Yonhap/EPA
Christopher Ahn, the ex-U.S. marine who helped rescue the son of North Korean-in-exile Kim Jong Nam (pictured), said Kim Han Sol escaped after receiving a warning call. File Photo by Yonhap/EPA

April 29 (UPI) -- The retired U.S. Marine who helped Kim Jong Un's half-nephew leave Macau after the assassination of his father Kim Jong Nam is defending his actions amid ongoing investigations of the 2019 raid of the North Korean Embassy in Spain.

Christopher Ahn, an activist with Free Joseon, the group behind the raid and the 2017 rescue of Kim Han Sol, told Kukmin Ilbo that he is innocent during a 7-hour interview with the South Korean newspaper.

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U.S. and Spanish authorities have said Ahn was among 10 people who entered the North Korean Embassy in Madrid with knives, iron bars and fake firearms, Korea JoongAng Daily reported earlier this year.

According to the Kukmin Ilbo article published Thursday, Ahn said he and his team, including activist Adrian Hong Chang, entered the embassy at the request of a North Korean diplomat who wanted to defect. Ahn and his legal counsel also made the claim in February.

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Ahn's lawyers have said the North Korean diplomat changed their mind when the raid went badly, according to the JoongAng.

Spanish authorities have requested the formal extradition of Ahn, who is currently in his hometown of Los Angeles, after being released on bail in July 2019.

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Ahn said in the interview that the FBI expressed concern for his safety in the event of extradition. The U.S. District Court in Los Angeles acknowledged the FBI message, according to the Kukmin.

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Earlier this week the newspaper also published details about Ahn's experience with Kim and his family.

Ahn briefly met with the North Korean leader's nephew and was in charge of the safety of Kim, his mother and his younger sister, at the airport in Taipei, the report published Tuesday said.

The activist said he spent 36 hours at the airport and tried to keep the conversation light during the encounter.

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Kim, who disappeared Feb. 16, 2017, after boarding a flight to Amsterdam from Taiwan, reportedly told Ahn that he received a phone call urging him to leave because of a possible assassination attempt.

CIA agents accompanied Kim and his family on the flight to Amsterdam, according to a November report from The New Yorker.

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