“Spanish Authorities Arrest US Fugitive Involved in North Korean Cryptocurrency Scam”


On Friday, Spanish police announced the detention of a Spaniard who was wanted by the United States for allegedly collaborating with a convicted American cryptocurrency researcher to help North Korea evade U.S. sanctions. The US Department of Justice had accused Alejandro Cao de Benos, founder of a pro-Pyongyang organization, of recruiting researcher Virgil Griffith to provide illegal cryptocurrency and blockchain technology services to North Korea last year. Griffith was sentenced to five years and three months in prison in 2022 for his involvement in the scheme.

In a post on social media platform X, Cao de Benos denied the US’s allegations against him, calling them “false”. The Spanish national police found out that he was in Barcelona under a false identity and planned to travel to Madrid by train. He was arrested at the Atocha train station in Madrid on Thursday.

Cao de Benos appeared before a High Court judge on Friday, who released him without conditions pending the extradition process. The US has to formalize the request and submit documentation for the extradition to proceed, according to a judicial source. Cao de Benos wrote on X that there is no extradition and that the US’s false accusation does not hold any weight in Spain.

The lawyers representing Cao de Benos, who could potentially face 20 years in prison if convicted, have not been identified yet. The news of his detention was published on 21 February 2024 at 03:14 IST.

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