The Guardian, UK: 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 CIA, 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 source as saying “there was a nexus” between the CIA and Kim Jong-nam.
According to the newspaper’s source, 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.
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 Indonesian Siti Aisyah in March and Doan Thi Huong, who is Vietnamese, in May.
Reuters could not independently confirm the journal’s claim but Anna Fifield, the Washington Post’s bureau chief in Beijing, refers to it in her book The Great Successor. “King Jong-nam became an informant for the CIA … His brother would have considered talking to American spies a treacherous act. But King Jong-nam provided information to them, usually meeting his handlers in Singapore or Malaysia,” she wrote.
The Wall Street Journal said: “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 former officials also said Kim Jong-nam had almost certainly been in contact with the security services of other countries, particularly China’s, the journal said.
South Korean and US officials have said North Korean authorities ordered the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, who had been critical of his family’s dynastic rule. Pyongyang has denied the allegation.
US president Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un have met twice, in Hanoi in February and Singapore in June last year, 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.
The CIA declined to comment.