U.S. Marine veteran Christopher Ahn could be in danger of being turned over to North Korea and executed if President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice persists in trying to have him extradited to Spain, Ahn’s lawyers and supporters say.
Fox News reported Ahn faces potential extradition to Spain after helping in a 2019 plot to break into the North Korean Embassy in Madrid North Korean officials defect to help then-North Korean ambassador Yun Suk So escape and defect. The judge considering Ahn’s extradition case has already appeared to agree that a Justice Department effort to extradite Ahn could put his life at risk.
“The FBI has confirmed that the North Korean government has threatened his life,” U.S. Magistrate Jean Rosenbluth wrote in 2019. ” … He is apparently the target of a dictatorship’s efforts to murder him.”
Testifying over the objections of federal prosecutors on Tuesday, Sung-Yoon Lee, a Kim Koo-Korea Foundation professor in Korean Studies, said, “Christopher Ahn is in danger of being assassinated in broad daylight for the world to see, to make the point that North Korea will indeed go to the ends of the earth to kill a priority target like Christopher Ahn.
Lee seperately told Fox News, “Another possibility is Ahn could be abducted, taken to North Korea, tortured extensively and then executed in public. North Korea is a terrorist state with a global murderous reach, with vast resources for implementing, executing its assassination job against high-value targets like Christopher.”
The 39-year-old Ahn previously served six years in the Marine Corps, including in the Iraq War. Ahn drew North Korea’s ire when as a member of the group Free Joseon, which opposes the North Korean regime and has helped other high-level North Korean officials defect, broke into the North Korean embassy in Madrid. Spanish authorities claim Ahn and the other activists tied up and beat some of the diplomats in the embassy, but Ahn’s supporters say he and the other activists were invited into the building and their actions were part of a ploy to make the break-in look like a kidnapping, so as to protect the North Korean ambassador from retribution.
Spain and the U.S. have an extradition treaty that requires the DOJ to send anyone suspected of a crime to Madrid if there is probable cause that an accused person committed actions that would also be considered a crime in the U.S.
If the judge approves Ahn’s extradition, he faces up to 24 years in prison for charges of illegal entry, assault, illegal confinement, and being part of a criminal organization.
Speaking outside a Los Angeles, Calif. courtroom Tuesday, Ahn expressed hope that his extradition would not be granted.
“I just want to say one thing, how appreciative I am of all the supporters and of all the people who have been very supportive of me and have reached out to me and have believed in me,” Ahn told reporters. “We all believe that truth, logic, common sense will make the day.”
Ahn’s attorney Naeun Rim also told Fox News, We walked out of the courtroom today with more hope than we could have imagined. The judge clearly understands the danger to Mr. Ahn and the weight of the responsibility on her shoulders. Mr. Ahn is a hero who is innocent of the North Korean allegations against him. I hope common sense and human decency will prevail and end this nightmare for Mr. Ahn and his family.”