A former U.S. Marine has been ordered detained in California and may be extradited to Spain for his purported role in a daytime assault on the North Korean Embassy in Madrid, a U.S. judge ruled Tuesday.
Newly unsealed documents from a Spanish court allege Christopher Ahn, a 38-year-old U.S. citizen, and several co-conspirators broke into the embassy in mid-February, bound and beat employees, and absconded with a host of electronic equipment.
A Justice Department complaint filed against Ahn on April 12, based on information provided by the Spanish government, alleges that on Feb. 22 Ahn and six others entered the embassy after one in their group, identified as Adrian Hong Chang, talked his way in and held the door open for the others, who brandished knives, iron bars, machetes and "imitation handguns."
The group allegedly struck and bound several embassy employees before singling out a top diplomat and urging him to defect. Two members of the group identified themselves as belonging to a movement for the liberation of North Korea, court documents say. The embassy official refused.
The complaint says that for several hours the "captives" remained bound while the assailants "systematically searched the embassy," eventually collecting "a couple of pen drives, two computers, two hard drives (one of which was used for storing images from the security cameras) and a mobile telephone."
When the group first entered the embassy, the wife of one of the employees there escaped by jumping from the upper terrace. She alerted passersby, who in turn alerted police.
The court documents allege that when the police came knocking, Hong, the supposed leader of the group, wore a pin of the North Korean president to answer the door and told them everything was fine.
A few minutes before 10 p.m., nearly five hours after the assault began, the group made its getaway -- most in embassy vehicles, but Hong and another member of the group fled in an Uber ordered by one "Oswaldo Trump," court documents say.
Hong, previously identified in Spanish court documents as a U.S. resident, eventually made his way to New York, where he met with the FBI. Court documents allege Hong admitted to carrying out the raid and turned over "items seized from the embassy."
Hong also met with FBI agents in California, where he allegedly told them about Ahn's participation in the incident. ABC News has been unable to reach Hong for comment.
After a Spanish court unsealed documents related to the incident last month, a shadowy organization calling itself Cheollima Civil Defense, or Free Joseon, claimed responsibility but disputed allegations of violence, saying instead it had been invited into the embassy and was responding to an "urgent situation." The group also apologized to Spain for involving the European nation in its struggle against the North Korean regime.
"Our fight is only against the regime's practices and on behalf of millions of our enslaved people," the group said.
Though the group said it offered "certain information of enormous potential value" to the FBI, it said it had no connection to any governments. The FBI has declined to comment to ABC News about the incident.
When Ahn was arrested on Thursday, prosecutors said, he had a concealed handgun, for which he said he had a permit. Ahn appeared in a U.S. court in California for an initial hearing the following day.
At the time, Lee Wolosky, a New York attorney who said he represents Free Joseon, said in a statement to ABC News that the group was "dismayed that the U.S. Department of Justice has decided to execute warrants against U.S. persons that derive from criminal complaints filed by the North Korean regime."
In an apparent reference to the death of American Otto Warmbier, Wolosky said: "The last U.S. citizen who fell into the custody of the Kim [Jong Un] regime returned home maimed from torture and did not survive. We have received no assurances from the U.S. government about the safety and security of the U.S. nationals it is now targeting."
A Department of Justice spokesperson appeared to respond to Wolosky's concerns, telling ABC News Friday: "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."
Military records released Monday by the Department of Defense show Ahn served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve from 2000 to 2006 and was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq, for a year beginning in 2005.
Citing Ahn's military training, his concealed handgun and the "violent nature" of the February incident, the Department of Justice argued successfully on Tuesday that Ahn should be held in detention ahead of extradition proceedings.
If extradited, court documents say Ahn could face six charges in Spain related to the break-in, from breaking and entering to "robbery with violence and intimidation." He could face more than 10 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.
ABC News was unable to reach a public defender for Ahn following the court's ruling Tuesday. The judge ordered a status hearing in the extradition case for July 18.
Ex-Marine ordered held in alleged break-in at North Korea's embassy in Madrid
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