WASHINGTON/LOS ANGELES, A U.S. citizen accused of involvement in a raid on the North Korean Embassy in Spain in February has been denied bail by a Los Angeles court.
Christopher Ahn, a Korean-American former Marine, appeared at the Central District of California federal court on Tuesday to attend a detention hearing.
He was arrested last week following an extradition request from Spain, which has accused him and his anti-North Korea group of raiding and removing computers and hard drives from the North Korean Embassy in Madrid on Feb. 22.
Ahn’s attorney told the court hearing that his client’s personal safety is under threat and that if extradited to Spain, he could be kidnapped to the North and even face execution.
The attorney cited the case of Otto Warmbier, a U.S. college student who was detained in the North and sent back in a coma in 2017, only to die several days later.
Prosecutors accused Ahn and the other members of Free Joseon, a group claiming to seek the overthrow of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s regime, of carrying arms during the raid and beating or tying up some of the embassy’s staff members.
The attorney also requested that Ahn be released on bail and put under house arrest, saying that his client has no intention to flee and has maintained ties within the LA community while taking care of his large family.
He claimed there was no clear evidence that Ahn was involved in the raid.
Magistrate Judge Jean P. Rosenbluth denied bail, citing the gravity of Ahn’s alleged crimes and the need to consider international ties.
His next hearing was scheduled for July 18.
Free Joseon has said it was invited into the embassy and that it handed over the material it removed to the FBI.
The timing of the incident was of particular note because it took place only days before Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump held a second summit in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Source: Yonhap news Agency