Who is Christopher Ahn?
Christopher Ahn is a former US Marine who is reportedly wanted by Spain for breaking into the North Korean embassy in Madrid to help a diplomat defect, now could be assassinated by Kim Jong-un’s regime if he is extradited by the Justice Department, his lawyer says.
Ahn faces his final extradition hearing in federal court in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
The plan: Stage a fake kidnapping to help a North Korean defector escape.
But when the mission failed, Christopher Ahn found himself wanted by international authorities.
This is the story of how a desire to help may land a man in prison 🧵https://t.co/XNX8Tx7WHA
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) May 24, 2021
Two years ago, he was freed on $1.3million bail but was forced to serve home confinement ahead of his possible extradition to Spain. The US government is working to extradite Ahn to Spain even though the FBI has reportedly told him that North Korea wants to assassinate him.
How old is Christopher Ahn?
Christopher Ahn is 40 years old as of the year 2021.
Christopher Ahn Marine
Ahn’s attorney says that extradition puts his client’s life in jeopardy since the North has been known to send hit squads to target enemies of the state – even if they are on foreign soil. Ahn was arrested in LA by US Marshals in 2019 – weeks after he and a group of anti-Kim activists devoted to helping North Koreans flee the authoritarian country broke into the embassy in Madrid in an attempt to help a top diplomat defect.
The plan was to make it appear as if they were going to kidnap Yun Suk So, the commercial attaché at the embassy and the most senior official representing Pyongyang in Spain, according to BuzzFeed News.
North Korea punishes the families of those who defect to the West, so Ahn and his alleged co-conspirators thought if they could trick the Kim government into believing their diplomat in Spain was kidnapped, it would spare his relatives back home. According to law enforcement officials in Spain, Ahn and his cohorts broke into the North Korean embassy in Madrid, tied up some of the diplomats there, and started beating them up.
Ahn and other members of the group Free Joseon, whose name means ‘Free North Korea,’ claim that they were allowed into the embassy by diplomats who had agreed to help them execute their plan to facilitate their escape.
Ahn and the other members of Free Joseon they changed their minds and had no intention of defecting from North Korea. Ahn and the other alleged co-conspirators involved in the plot fled the embassy into getaway cars. They then managed to take taxis to Portugal, where they booked a flight to the US.
Spanish police using surveillance footage from that evening identified the members of the group and sought their extradition from the US.
Christopher Ahn Attorneys
Spain and the US have an extradition treaty which requires DOJ to send anyone suspected of a crime to Madrid if there is probable cause that person should stand trial for crimes that would also be crimes in the US. If a judge approves DOJ’s request to extradite Ahn to Spain, he faces up to 24 years in prison on charges of illegal entry, assault, illegal confinement, and being part of a criminal organization.
Ahn’s attorneys say that extraditing him puts his life in jeopardy as the US gov. obtained intelligence indicating that the Kim regime wishes to assassinate him..
Christopher Ahn Extradition
In 2019, Ahn was arrested by US Marshals during a raid on the Los Angeles apartment of a co-defendant, Adrian Hong Chang, a leader of the Free Joseon group.
When Ahn was arrested, US Marshals found a loaded .40 caliber handgun hidden in his waistband.
His attorney, Callie Steele, said in court that the gun was licensed and Ahn carried it after the FBI informed him that there were threats against his life. In court documents, US prosecutors said Ahn had a ‘strong incentive to flee’ because he faces more than 10 years in prison if he’s extradited and convicted in Spain.
Steele denied Ahn was a flight risk because he was a devoted caregiver to his ill mother and 98-year-old grandmother, who is blind.
The Los Angeles native received an honorable discharge from the Marines, earned an MBA from the University of Virginia, and has no criminal record, Steele said. Ahn’s case has attracted nationwide attention, including from the parents of Otto Warmbier.