North Korean Man Extradited to US in Sanctions Case

March 21, 2021 Updated: March 21, 2021

WASHINGTON—A North Korean citizen was taken into U.S. custody on Saturday after being extradited from Malaysia to face money laundering charges, making him the first North Korean extradited to the U.S. to face trial.

Mun Chol Myong was in the custody of the FBI in Washington on Saturday, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. His extradition came after a Malaysian court rejected his assertion that the charges were politically motivated.

A spokesperson for the Justice Department did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on Sunday.

A federal judge in Washington had issued a warrant for Mun’s arrest on May 2, 2019, on money laundering and conspiracy charges. Mun, who is in his 50s, has lived in Malaysia for a decade and was arrested in May 2019 after the United States requested his extradition. Malaysia’s government approved the extradition, but Mun challenged the bid.

His lawyer has said Mun worries he won’t get a fair trial in the United States. They have argued that the extradition is “politically motivated” and aimed to increase pressure on North Korea over the nation’s missile program.

Mun has denied allegations that he was involved in supplying prohibited luxury goods from Singapore to North Korea in violation of U.N. sanctions before moving to Malaysia in 2008. He has also denied allegations he laundered funds through front companies and produced fraudulent documents to support illicit shipments.

North Korea said it had also terminated diplomatic ties with Malaysia over the decision to extradite Mun to the United States in the latest development in growing animosity between Washington and Pyongyang as the North ramps up pressure on the Biden administration over a nuclear standoff.

by Michael Balsamo