North Korean leader's half-brother was CIA informant: newspaper

11 June 2019 - 07:53 By Reuters
Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong was a suspect in the murder case of North Korean leader's half brother Kim Jong Nam.
Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong was a suspect in the murder case of North Korean leader's half brother Kim Jong Nam.
Image: Reuters/Lai Seng Sin

Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un who was killed in Malaysia in 2017, had been an informant for the US Central Intelligence Agency, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

The newspaper cited an unnamed "person knowledgeable about the matter" for the report, and said many details of Kim Jong Nam's relationship with the CIA remained unclear.

It quoted the person as saying "There was a nexus" between the CIA and Kim Jong Nam.

"Several former US officials said the half-brother, who had lived outside of North Korea for many years and had no known power base in Pyongyang, was unlikely to be able to provide details of the secretive country's inner workings," the paper said.

The former officials also said Kim Jong Nam had been almost certainly in contact with security services of other countries, particularly China's, the WSJsaid. The CIA declined to comment.

Kim Jong Nam's role as a CIA informant is mentioned in a new book about Kim Jong Un, "The Great Successor," by Washington Post reporter Anna Fifield that is due to be published on Tuesday. Fifield says Kim Jong Nam usually met his handlers in Singapore and Malaysia, citing a source with knowledge of the intelligence.

The book says that security camera footage from Kim Jong Nam's last trip to Malaysia showed him in a hotel elevator with an Asian-looking man who was reported to be a US intelligence agent. It said Ki's backpack contained $120,000 in cash, which could have been payment for intelligence-related activities, or earnings from his casino businesses.

South Korean and US officials have said the North Korean authorities had ordered the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, who had been critical of his family's dynastic rule. Pyongyang has denied the allegation.

Two women were charged with poisoning Kim Jong Nam by smearing his face with liquid VX, a banned chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017. Malaysia released Doan Thi Huong, who is Vietnamese, in May, and Indonesian Siti Aisyah in March.

According to the WSJ, the person said Kim Jong Nam had travelled to Malaysia in February 2017 to meet his CIA contact, although that may not have been the sole purpose of the trip.

US president Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un have met twice, in Hanoi in February and Singapore last June, seeming to build personal goodwill but failing to agree on a deal to lift US sanctions in exchange for North Korea abandoning its nuclear and missile programs.


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