Seoul, Mar 19 (efe-epa).- Pyongyang announced Friday that it is severing diplomatic ties with Malaysia after a court there authorized the extradition of a North Korean citizen to the United States to face money laundering charges.
The North Korean announcement comes after Mun Chol-myong lost his appeal against extradition in Malaysia’s top court in early March.
In 2019 the North Korean businessman, who has lived with his family in Malaysia for a decade, was arrested following an extradition request from the FBI, which accuses him of laundering money through front companies and violating international sanctions by shipping luxury goods from Singapore to North Korea. Mun denies the allegations, and has said the charges are politically motivated.
“On March 17, the Malaysian authority committed an unpardonable crime, in the end, of forcibly delivering the innocent citizen of the DPRK to the United States by having charged him [as a] ‘criminal,'” reads the foreign ministry statement published by state news outlet KCNA on Friday.
“Not content with putting our innocent citizen in the dock by blindly currying favor with the US – the principal enemy of our state – the Malaysian authority delivered our citizen to the US in the end, thus destroying the entire foundation of the bilateral relations based on the respect for sovereignty,” it added.
Malaysia has not yet announced or confirmed that Mun’s extradition has taken place.
Nonetheless, the North Korean foreign ministry announced the “total severance of the diplomatic relations with Malaysia which committed super-large hostile act against the DPRK in subservience to the US pressure.”
It claims that Washington, the “main culprit of this incident,” “will also be made to pay a due price.”
The statement also accuses Malaysian legal authorities of having attended a party arranged by the US ambassador in Malaysia where “huge gratuities” were promised and where “there was even a bargaining for ‘free delivery of armaments.'”
North Korea and Malaysia established diplomatic relations in the early 1970s, but the relationship fell apart in 2017 when Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of leader Kim Jong-un, was assassinated at a Kuala Lumpur airport in what is widely believed to have been a Pyongyang operation.
Both countries, which had allowed their respective citizens to travel visa-free, expelled the other’s ambassadors and temporarily held North Korean and Malaysian civilians in their territories.
Since then there have been several approaches and declarations of intent to repair diplomatic ties. EFE-EPA