U.S. linked to North Korea embassy raid in Spain

A woman walks past North Korea's embassy in Madrid Spain Thursday Feb. 28 2019. Spanish authorities said police were investigating an incident last week at the North Korean Embassy in Madrid in which a woman was hurt and according to a North Korean

Spanish investigators are probing an alleged attack on the North Korean embassy in Madrid.

The online newspaper El Confidencial, which broke news of the raid, reported that the group of men tied up and threatened staff, fleeing only after a woman managed to free herself and raise the alarm. Not only would it mean that the U.S. agency had operated on Spanish soil without asking for authorization or informing the authorities, it would also be a violation of the global conventions that protect diplomatic delegations. Soon after officers arrived at the building, the 10 assailants sped away and ambulances were called to treat the staff for their injuries.

Spanish investigators ruled out the possibility that the attack was by common criminals as the attackers knew what they were looking for, taking only computers and cellphones.

Inside, the police reportedly found eight people tied up with bags over their heads.

Spanish intelligence officials believe at least two of the 10 attackers who broke into the North Korean embassy in Madrid last month, holding staff hostage and making off with computers, are linked to the CIA, according to a report in El País. The operation was perfectly planned as if it were carried out by a "military cell", said sources close to the investigation.

El País pointed out that the robbery took place five days before Donald Trump's second summit with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

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Why would anyone attack the embassy?

Kim Hyok-chol, North Korea's most recent ambassador to Spain, played a key role ahead of the summit, leading the negotiating team that received a USA delegation in Pyongyang last month to discuss denuclearisation.

Kim had served as ambassador at the embassy until September 2017, when Spain expelled him on grounds that North Korea's nuclear test breached United Nations Security Council resolutions.

He also travelled to Washington DC with Kim Jong-un's right-hand man, Kim Yong-chol, in January. And breaking into another country's embassy would be a huge breach of global protocol.

The highly secretive investigation will be heard at Spain's High Court, the Audiencia Nacional, which could order the arrest of the identified assailants. The CIA has denied any involvement but government sources say their response was "unconvincing".

The only thing that's clear so far is that this story is just beginning.

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