Christopher Ahn fears Kim Jong Un will put a target on his back.
“The court recognized that there is a danger to my life and to those around me if I leave this country. Frankly, they told me that this danger is here in the United States and that this danger is increasing. exponentially if I leave the country, ”Ahn told Fox News.
“The fear is there.”
The Biden administration is trying to extradite the 39-year-old former US Navy officer to what his supporters say is certain assassination by the Kim Jong Un regime for his anti-regime activities. They are asking the Justice Department to drop its attempt to pack Ahn and ship him out of the country.
“The same Justice Department that told me that if I leave the country that I could be murdered, it’s the same Justice Department that’s trying to extradite me,” Ahn told Fox News. “It is very disappointing.”
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Ahn was arrested in 2019 as a member of the Free Joseon group. The group, whose name means “Free North Korea,” opposes the Kim regime and has helped several high-profile North Koreans defect. He was reportedly part of a small group in the plan to help North Korea’s ambassador to Spain in Madrid escape, but the diplomat changed his mind at the last minute. For his role, Ahn learned that Kim Jong Un had put a target on his back. His supporters fear he will be taken away by a North Korean strike team or even kidnapped if he is extradited, taken to Pyongyang for a show trial, and executed in public for his anti-regime activities.
“The reason we went there, and the reason I participated, is because I wanted to help people,” Ahn said.
Prosecutors are advancing on the basis of a complaint from the Spanish authorities. They claim that Ahn and the small group of activists broke into the embassy before tying up and beating some diplomats.
But Ahn’s supporters say the activists were invited into the building as part of a plan agreed with North Korean diplomats inside.
The extradition process began under the Trump administration and has continued since, although the Spanish complaint is based entirely on North Koreans’ claims. Ahn and his legal team say Kim’s diplomats are not credible because they would have a life or death incentive to lie and deny that they wanted to defect.
“If you actually look at what the evidence really is and use a little common sense, it’s pretty obvious which story is more believable,” says Ahn.
Ahn couldn’t go into details about what was going on inside the embassy for legal reasons, but told Fox News he went there because “people wanted help. people wanted to choose a better life. They didn’t want to live under the North Korean regime. They wanted something better for their children. “
“These people,” Ahn said, referring to Kim’s diplomats, “may be North Koreans, but they are parents, they love their children and they have been fed lies all their lives and they come to a Western country. , and they realize that everything they’ve been told is a lie and that they have to make a decision about what they want to do for their children.
“I was asked to save the lives of these people.”
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Cindy and Fred Warmbier, Otto Warmbier’s parents, appeared in court to support Ahn. They flew from their home in Ohio to Los Angeles on Ahn’s behalf.
Otto Warmbier was the 22-year-old student, who like Ahn attended the University of Virginia, and was falsely arrested, tortured and sent home to die by the Kim’s regime in 2017. Since then, the Warmbiers have been keen critics of Kim. Jong Un’s Human Rights Review.
Cindy Warmbier made the court cry with her plea for Magistrate Jean Rosenbluth to drop the government’s extradition order.
“No one ever resists North Korea,” she told the court. “Well, I stand for North Korea. I stand up for Chris Ahn, a good man. North Korea will kill Chris if he’s extradited. Please stop this injustice.”
“I think the hardest part of all day yesterday was listening to Ms. Warmbier talk about Otto,” Chris told us.
“It makes me incredibly sad about what she, her family and Otto have been through, and I feel immensely blessed to have someone like her who has gone through such hard and difficult times to be able to contact me and m ‘help my situation,’ he said. “I can’t thank her and Otto and Otto’s family enough for supporting me.”
Another supporter who testified, Sung-Yoon Lee, professor at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Kim Koo-Korea Foundation professor of Korean studies, told Fox News that Chris could be vulnerable if the government succeeded in driving him out.
“North Korea shows no qualms about pursuing targets anywhere in the world, including Europe. And North Korea has shown that there is no expiration date for this assassination work. They are tireless. They don’t get tired. They will go and look for Christopher in Spain, “he said.
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“This is a unique case, it is even of particular concern. I would say it is the very first case where the United States government executes an arrest warrant issued by another state, although a friendly ally, Spain, but a case that’s almost entirely based on North Korean testimony. What’s wrong with that? Well, we know the North Korean state is lying for a living. “
Rosenbluth is expected to take several weeks before she announces a decision on blocking or allowing Ahn’s extradition.
“What really wins the day is morals and belief in our system of government and our system of laws. And although I am in this unfortunate situation, I still have faith in America and in the American people, ”Ahn said.
“All I can do is trust that in the end, logic and common sense, and the people who care about what is going on will prevail.”
Fox News’ Ben Evansky contributed to this report.