Alejandro Cao de Benos, the founder of the pro-Pyongyang Korean Friendship Association, was arrested this week in Madrid upon arriving by train from Barcelona.
Spanish authorities apprehended Cao de Benos at Atocha train station after discovering he had been traveling under a false identity.
Cao de Benos is accused by the U.S. of conspiring with convicted American researcher Virgil Griffith to help North Korea evade sanctions using cryptocurrency.
Last year, Griffith was sentenced to over 5 years in prison by a U.S. court for the same alleged conspiracy. If found guilty, Cao de Benos could face up to 20 years behind bars.
On Friday, Cao de Benos took to social media to refute the U.S. allegations, calling them “false.” His legal team could not be reached for comment.
However, authorities believe the crypto scheme involving Cao de Benos and Griffith was intended to fund North Korea’s nuclear program by laundering money and dodging sanctions. There are allegations that North Korean hackers have stolen hundreds of millions in cryptocurrency over recent years to support the regime.
Cao de Benos was released by a Spanish High Court judge on Friday pending extradition to the U.S. to face trial. His arrest comes amidst growing global concern over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.