North Korea has demanded an investigation into a raid on its embassy in Spain last month which it described as a “grave terrorist attack”.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman said the raid was an act of extortion that violates international law.
The incident occurred ahead of US President Donald Trump’s second summit with leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi on February 27-28.
A mysterious group calling for the overthrow of the North Korean regime has claimed responsibility.
The North’s official media quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying that an illegal intrusion into and occupation of a diplomatic mission and an act of extortion are a grave breach of state sovereignty and a flagrant violation of international law, “and this kind of act should never be tolerated”.
He claimed an armed group tortured the staff and suggested they stole communications gear.
The 10 people who allegedly raided the embassy in Madrid belong to a mysterious dissident organisation that styles itself as a government-in-exile dedicated to toppling the ruling Kim family dynasty.
The leader of the alleged intruders appears to be a Yale-educated human rights activist who was once jailed in China while trying to rescue North Korean defectors living in hiding, according to activists and defectors.
Details have begun trickling out about the raid after a Spanish judge lifted a secrecy order last week and said an investigation of what happened on February 22 uncovered evidence that “a criminal organisation” shackled and gagged embassy staff before escaping with computers, hard drives and documents.
A US official said the group was named Cheollima Civil Defence, a little-known organisation that recently called for international solidarity in the fight against North Korea’s government.
Spain has issued at least two international arrest warrants for members of the group.
The dissident group said it would be temporarily suspending operations. The two suspected intruders are now believed to be in the US.
The suspected leader has been identified by the court in an official document as Adrian Hong Chang, a Mexican citizen who is a US resident.
The other suspect sought in the arrest warrant is Sam Ryu, who is a US citizen of Korean descent.