Investigators from Spain's National Intelligence Center (CNI) and the Spanish police have linked a February 22 attack on the North Korean embassy in Madrid to the CIA, according to El Pais.
On February 22 at approximately 3pm, 10 masked men carrying fake weapons broke into the embassy, tied up eight people, put bags over their heads, and proceeded to beat and interrogate them for two hours. One woman was able to escape through a second-floor window, and police were called after a neighbor heard her screaming.
When officers arrived at the embassy, a man opened the door and told them that nothing was going on. "Minutes later, two luxury vehicles sped out of the embassy," according to the report. The getaway cars - belonging to the diplomatic mission, were abandoned in a nearby street.
According to the report, at least two of the 10 assailants have been identified and have connections to the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA has denied any involvement, however Spanish government sources say their response was "unconvincing" according to El Pais.
If it is proven that the CIA was behind the attack, it could lead to a diplomatic spat between Madrid and Washington. Government sources say that it would be “unacceptable” for an ally to take such action. Not only would it mean that the US agency had operated on Spanish soil without asking for authorization or informing the authorities, it would also be a violation of the international conventions that protect diplomatic delegations. -El Pais
Investigators from CNI and the General Information Office (GNI) ruled out common criminals - instead saying that it was a perfectly planned operation as if it were carried out by a "military cell," according to sources close to the investigation. "The assailants knew what they were looking for, taking only computers and mobile phones," reports El Pais.
Spain's High Court - the Audencia Nacional, will review the highly secretive investigation. That said, government sources admit that it may prove difficult to prove the CIA was involved.
Kim Hyok Chol
According to the report, the intended goal of the attack was to obtain information on former North Korean ambassador, Kim Hyok Chol - who was expelled from Spain on September 19, 2017 over ongoing North Korean nuclear tests, by then-Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis.
Kim Hyok Chol, who was declared persona non grata by Spain and was invited to leave the country before the end of the month, is currently one of Kim Jong-un’s highly trusted diplomats, and one of the architects of the failed nuclear summit between US President Donald Trump and Kim Jon[g]-un in Vietnam. 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. -El Pais
Kim Hyok Chol also led the North Korean delegation which negotiated a nuclear disarmament plan with US special envoy Stephen Biegun in exchange for easing sanctions.