North Korean man in Malaysia challenges US extradition bid

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – A North Korean man launched a legal challenge yesterday against a United States (US) bid to extradite him from Malaysia over allegations he supplied goods to his country in breach of sanctions.

Mun Chol-myong, who has lived in the Southeast Asian country with his family for a decade, was arrested last year following an extradition request from Washington.

He denies Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) claims that he led a criminal group that violated sanctions by supplying luxury goods to North Korea and laundered funds through front companies.

A Malaysian court last December approved his extradition to the US, but Mun yesterday appealed against the decision at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur.

His lawyer Gooi Soon Seng argued Mun was innocent and the allegations against him were of a “political character”.

A relative of Mun Chol-myong leaves with two North Korean embassy officials from the Duta court complex in Kuala Lumpur. PHOTO: AFP

The court will rule on the appeal on October 8.

Mun, in his 50s, is accused of four charges of money-laundering and two of conspiracy to launder money, mainly in relation to his work for a firm in neighbouring Singapore.

It is not clear what he is accused of supplying, but there have been a string of cases involving businessmen in Singapore in recent years who have sent items to North Korea such as jewellery.

Mun’s defence team has previously claimed he was involved only in the supply of palm oil and soybean oil to North Korea.

The export to North Korea of some goods, including luxury items, has been banned as part of sweeping sanctions imposed on Pyongyang by the United Nations (UN) and countries including the US over its weapons programmes.