U.S. seeking extradition of N. Korean detained in Malaysia

Japan Economic Newswire |

The United States has requested the extradition of a North Korean man living in Malaysia over alleged money laundering, a document submitted to a Malaysian court showed Friday.

Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, in a letter dated Monday, informed the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate's Court that he has received a request from the U.S. Department of Justice for Mun Chol Myong to be handed over to answer five counts of money laundering charges.

Mun, 54, has been residing in Malaysia for over 10 years with his cancer-stricken wife and two daughters, according to local reports.

The North Korean came here under the "Malaysia, My Second Home" program that was promoted by the government to allow wealthy foreigners who fulfil certain criteria, to stay in Malaysia for the long term on multiple-entry visas.

He was arrested in May and first made a court appearance in June when he was denied bail on the grounds that he was a flight risk.

The government is seeking a court order to facilitate the extradition, but one of Mun's lawyer, Akberdin Abdul Kader, told Kyodo News that his client will fight the extradition.

"He has not been to the U.S. before. He has nothing to do with what he is accused of. The offense is also not a serious one."

It is not clear what business dealings Mun is alleged to have been involved in. Prosecutor Faizul Aswad Masri told reporters that details would be revealed when the case is heard in the Sessions Court.

According to the home minister's letter, Mun has been charged in the United States with "conspiracy to launder monetary instruments" in violation of U.S. law.

Magistrate Noorasyikin Sahat on Friday allowed the prosecution's application for the case to be transferred to the Sessions Court. Faizul said no date has been fixed yet when the case will be heard at the higher court.

News that North Koreans are among the thousands of expatriates who live in Malaysia under the government program first surfaced in 2017 after the sensational murder of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February that year.

The murder on Malaysian soil, widely believed to have been orchestrated by a group of North Koreans, temporarily soured bilateral ties, leading to a freeze in visa permits for North Koreans to enter Malaysia. The freeze remains in place today.

According to former Tourism Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz, whose ministry is in charge of the program, four North Koreans were living in Malaysia under the program in 2017.


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