Spain investigates possible Central Intelligence Agency links to embassy break

Spain investigates possible Central Intelligence Agency links to embassy break

Spain investigates possible Central Intelligence Agency links to embassy break

The CIA has denied any involvement, but Spanish government sources said their response was "unconvincing", El Pais said, adding that should the CIA be proven to have been behind the attack, it could lead to a diplomatic row between Madrid and Washington.

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 government's aide, computers and cellphones also were stolen.

Ten men broke into the complex on February 22, tied up eight staff, covered their heads with bags and beat them while questioning them.

Spain's El Confidencial, which broke the news of the incident, also reported Wednesday that Spanish officials have linked two assailants to the Central Intelligence Agency. The hostages were beaten and interrogated. A woman managed to escape from a window on the second floor and her screams for help were heard by a neighbor, who contacted the police.

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El Confidencial said a police officer dispatched to the embassy was told everything was fine by a man who answered the door, but moments later, "the gates swung open ... and two high-end cars came out at great speed, leaving the area within seconds". Minutes after that, two vehicles belonging to the embassy left the premises. Several diplomats required medical attention after the incident due to minor injuries.

El País reported that Spanish investigators have ruled out the possibility that the attack was carried out by "common criminals".

On Wednesday, El País said Spanish investigators had studied CCTV footage of the intruders, questioned embassy staff and examined the cars used in the getaway.

A court in Madrid is in charge of the investigation into the break-in.

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The former North Korean ambassador to Spain was expelled from the country in September 2017 following Pyongyang's repeated nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches.

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 now 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-un in Vietnam.

But Mr Kim is now serving as a key envoy in North Korean talks with the U.S., and helped organise the recent summit in Vietnam.

The talks failed to reach a nuclear accord.

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English version by Melissa Kitson.

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