Central Intelligence Agency may be behind February attack on North Korean embassy in Spain

Investigators at the Centre for National Intelligence (CNI), the Spanish secret service, believe two of the raiders have links to the CIA, according to sources who spoke to El País.

Both El País and El Confidencial report that the Spanish authorities suspect USA intelligence agencies and their allies could have been involved in the attack.

If it is proven that the Central Intelligence Agency was behind the attack, it could lead to a diplomatic spat between Madrid and Washington. Government sources say that it would be "unacceptable" for an ally to take such action. Not only would it mean that the U.S. agency had operated on Spanish soil without asking for authorization or informing the authorities, it would also be a violation of the worldwide conventions that protect diplomatic delegations.

The Spanish government and police have only confirmed that on February 22, emergency services attended to a North Korean woman with mild injuries on the street near the embassy.

Inside, the police reportedly found eight people tied up with bags over their heads. The victims were beaten and interrogated.

One woman managed to get free, escaping through a second floor window and screaming for help.

El Confidencial said a police officer dispatched to the embassy was told everything was fine by a man who answered the door, but moments later, "the gates swung open ... and two high-end cars came out at great speed, leaving the area within seconds". Minutes later, two luxury vehicles sped out of the embassy. Two of them required medical attention.

Authorities have dismissed the idea that common criminals are behind the alleged attack.

On Wednesday, El País said Spanish investigators had studied CCTV footage of the intruders, questioned embassy staff and examined the cars used in the getaway.

According to investigators quoted by El Pais, they were looking for information linked to Kim.

A court in Madrid is in charge of the investigation into the break-in.

Former North Korean ambassador to Spain, Kim Hyok Chol, in a file photo from 2015.

Since 2017, when Kim Hyok Chol was expelled from Spain as "persona non grata" after nuclear tests and missile firings by Pyongyang, the secretive state has had diplomatic representation in Madrid but no ambassador.

A view of North Korea's embassy in Madrid, Spain, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019.

In February, Kim Hyok Chol also led the North Korean delegation that negotiated a nuclear disarmament plan with United States special envoy Stephen Biegun in exchange for sanctions to be lifted.