North Korea

Kim Jong-nam, half-brother of North Korean leader, met with suspected US spy days before he was killed, court hears

Four days before he was assassinated in a Malaysian airport, Kim reportedly met with a suspected intelligence agent

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 January, 2018, 11:13pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 January, 2018, 10:36pm

Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, met a suspected US intelligence agent in the northern Malaysian island resort of Langkawi just days before his mysterious demise, police revealed on Monday.

Fuelling speculation that Kim had ties with US intelligence, Wan Azirul Nizam also confirmed that a forensic report on Kim’s Dell laptop showed that some data was accessed by a USB pen drive several times on February 9, 2017, while he was in Langkawi. The pen drive was not among the items found on Kim when he died on February 13.

There was also friction in the court as Azirul repeatedly claimed not to remember simple facts from the case – leading to one of the lawyers for the defence accusing the police force of trying to play off a political killing as a “simple murder case”.

We are saying it is a political murder but they want to play down the political motive and turn it into a simple murder case
Gooi Soon Seng, defence lawyer

Azirul said he dispatched a police officer to investigate Kim’s five-day trip to Langkawi from February 8 -12 to help shed light on the motive for the assassination, which occurred at the departure hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong have been jointly charged, along with four North Koreans still at large, with killing Kim by swiping his face with the deadly nerve agent VX.

Both women have pleaded innocent, maintaining that they were duped by the North Koreans into thinking the act was for a prank television show.

Aisyah’s lawyer, Gooi Soon Seng, insisted in court that there is a political motive behind the assassination.

In his cross examination, he grilled Azirul about Kim’s Langkawi meeting with a Korean-American man based in Bangkok, which was first reported by Japan’s Asahi newspaper last year.

While Azirul confirmed that the meeting took place at a hotel, he said the police have been unable to identify the man, who the Asahi said was a US intelligence officer.

The police found about US$138,000 (HK$1.07 million) in Kim’s backpack when he died, lending to rumours that he may have sold information related to the regime of his half-brother Kim Jong-un to the United States, but Azirul denied that.

The police officer, however, irked the lawyer when he could not answer many of the questions, even seemingly innocuous ones like where Kim stayed in Langkawi. Azirul claimed he could not remember or he could not find the details in his notebook.

He had earlier claimed he could not remember what investigators found on Kim’s laptop until Gooi produced a report from the computer crime unit of the police forensic department dated July 25, 2017.

Azirul confirmed the report that found the laptop was last used on February 9, and on that day, a Kingston USB pen drive has been used to access data in it several times.

Kim Jong-nam was carrying antidote to nerve agent when assassinated in Kuala Lumpur

Besides the laptop, Kim Jong Nam’s four mobile phones were also sent for forensic analysis.

“His demeanour, his answers were very evasive. We are quite unhappy over that,” Gooi told reporters.

“We are saying it is a political murder but they want to play down the political motive and turn it into a simple murder case,” he added.

Azirul will continue his testimony on Tuesday.