The FBI has provided documents backing Washington’s request to extradite a North Korean living in Malaysia who faces money-laundering charges in the United States, a prosecutor told a court hearing in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.
Malaysian authorities on May 13 arrested Mun Chol Myong, a businessman who had dealings in China, saying the U.S. had applied for his extradition and alleged he was in breach of sanctions imposed against Pyongyang. He has been in detention here since then and has attended several court hearings.
“We have received the documents from the FBI,” deputy public prosecutor Faizul Aswad Masri told the Magistrate Court in Kuala Lumpur.
Faizul also presented a document signed by Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on July 8. It confirmed that the ministry had received a formal request from the United States for Mun’s extradition.
The FBI documents explained the six counts of charges against Mun, including conspiracy and laundering monetary instruments in violation of the United States Code, Faizul had said during an earlier hearing, according to an Agence France-Press report.
With the confirmation of the extradition request and FBI documents received by both the prosecution and defense teams, the case will now be elevated to the Sessions Court, which has jurisdiction over all offenses other than those punishable with the death sentence, Faizul said Friday.
The U.S. Department of Justice, which oversees the bureau, on Friday declined to comment on Mun’s case after BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service, sent an email asking for copies of the FBI documents.
Defense attorney Jagjit Singh told reporters that he would challenge the extradition request during the next hearing, which is expected to take place within two weeks.
“The matter will be heard in the Sessions Court, we will be fighting it there,” he said.
Violation of sanctions
Last month, a source in Malaysian intelligence told BenarNews that the United States viewed the charges against Mun as showing him in violation of the U.N. Security Council’s sanctions, which aim to deprive North Korea of funds that could be funneled into Pyongyang’s nuclear energy and nuclear-weapons program.
Mun, 54, and his family lived in an apartment in a Kuala Lumpur suburb while he did business in China, the source said, adding that Malaysian authorities were not certain what kind of business deals he had when he frequently traveled to Beijing.
Faizul, the prosecutor, told the news agency AFP that Mun had allegedly traded “controlled items” with North Korea between 2014 and 2017. Faizul did not elaborate, but other reports said the North Korean had sold liquor and luxury goods during his trips to Pyongyang.
In June, Singh and fellow defense attorney Akberdin Abdul Kader asked the court to allow Mun to be released on bail, citing that he and his wife were suffering from health issues while taking care of their two children.
But Magistrate Noorasyikin Sahat rejected that petition, saying the North Korean businessman was deemed to be a flight risk.
Mun wore a dark-blue shirt and gray pants during Friday’s hearing, which lasted about 10 minutes. He did not say a word and was whisked away by his security escorts through a building corridor reserved for judges and high-profile defendants.
Reported by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.