Report: Kim Jong Un’s slain half-brother was spy for CIA
Wall Street Journal article says Kim Jong Nam was also in contact with security services of other nations
WASHINGTON : Mr 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 (CIA), The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
The Journal cited an unnamed "person knowledgeable about the matter" for the report and said many details of Mr Kim Jong Nam's relationship with the CIA remained unclear.
Reuters could not independently confirm the report. The CIA declined to comment.
The Journal quoted the person as saying "there was a nexus" between the CIA and Mr 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 Journal said.
The former officials also said Mr Kim Jong Nam had almost certainly been in contact with security services of other countries, particularly China's, the Journal said.
Mr Kim Jong Nam's role as a CIA informant is mentioned in a new book about Mr Kim Jong Un, The Great Successor, by Washington Post reporter Anna Fifield.
Ms Fifield says Mr Kim Jong Nam usually met his handlers in Singapore and Malaysia, citing a source with knowledge of the intelligence.
The book says security camera footage from Mr Kim Jong Nam's last trip to Malaysia showed him in a hotel elevator with a man who was reported to be a US intelligence agent.
It said his backpack contained US$120,000 (S$164,000) 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 Mr Kim Jong Nam, who had been critical of his family's rule. Pyongyang has denied the allegation.
Two women were charged with poisoning Mr Kim Jong Nam by smearing his face with liquid VX, a chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017. Malaysia released Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong in May and Indonesian Siti Aisyah in March.
According to the Journal, the source said Mr 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 Mr Kim Jong Un have met twice, in Hanoi in February and in 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 programmes. - REUTERS