Spain Arrests Fugitive Close To North Korean Hackers

Spanish police arrested citizen Alejandro Cao de Benos in early December. He is accused of supporting developer Virgil Griffith, who helped North Korea evade US sanctions through crypto and blockchain. The accused was immediately released by a Spanish judge, but remains under judicial supervision.

Spanish police arrest North Korean supporter

Spanish authorities are sparing no effort to combat the theft of crypto funds. Spanish police have announced earlier this month the arrest of Alejandro Cao de Benos in Madrid as he arrived from Barcelona using a false identity. The Spanish citizen is accused of helping North Koreans circumvent US sanctions using cryptocurrency. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Alejandro was actively sought by US authorities for several years. According to the US Department of Justice, the latter founded the North Korea Friendship Association in 2018. As part of this organization, Alejandro supported former Ethereum developer Virgil Griffit. Together, they have organized blockchain conferences in North Korea and learned how the country can use crypto to evade US sanctions.

Last year, Virgil had pleaded guilty to conspiring with North Korea to evade U.S. sanctions. In April 2022, he was sentenced to 63 months in prison and fined $100,000.

Immediately arrested, immediately released under surveillance

The arrest of Alejandro Cao de Benos followed a request from the American authorities. Despite the seriousness of the charges against him, his detention was very short-lived. According to corroborating sources, a Madrid court released him on bail on the very day of his arrest.

As soon as he was released from prison, the man who makes no secret of his admiration for North Korea reacted after his release. In a message posted on X, he announced that he would not be extradited to the United States.

Although Alejandro Cao de Benos is free, he is still being prosecuted. It is now up to the courts to decide whether or not he is guilty. The worst thing for him would certainly be extradition to the United States, a country that takes a tough stance on crypto-crime. On this point, Alejandro Cao de Benos must rely on the Spanish government.