Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korea‘s leader Kim Jong Un, who was killed in Malaysia in 2017, had been an informant for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
The newspaper cited an unnamed “person knowledgeable about the matter” for the claim and said many details of Kim Jong Nam’s relationship with the US spy agency remained unclear.
It quoted the person as saying there was “a nexus” between the CIA and Kim Jong Nam, Reuters reported.
The news agency could not independently confirm the story.
Kim Jong Nam’s role as a CIA informant is also mentioned in a new book about Kim Jong Un, The Great Successor, by Washington Post reporter Anna Fifield that is due to be published on Tuesday.
According to Fifield, Kim Jong Nam usually met his handlers in Singapore and Malaysia, citing a source with knowledge of the intelligence.
The book says that security camera footage from Kim’s last trip to Malaysia showed him in a hotel lift with an Asian-looking man who was reported to be a US intelligence agent. It said Kim’s backpack contained $120,000 in cash, which could have been payment for intelligence-related activities, or earnings from his casino businesses.
The former officials told the Wall Street Journal that Kim Jong Nam had almost certainly been in contact with security services from other countries, particularly China.
South Korean and US officials have said North Korea ordered the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, who had been critical of his family’s dynastic rule and was thought to live mostly in Macau. The North has denied the allegation.
Two women – from Indonesia and Vietnam – were charged with poisoning Kim Jong Nam by smearing his face with liquid VX, a banned chemical weapon, in the budget terminal of Kuala Lumpur’s international airport in February 2017.
According to the Journal, Kim Jong Nam was in Malaysia to meet his CIA contact, although that may not have been the sole purpose of the trip.
US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un have met twice, in Hanoi in February and Singapore last June, but have failed to agree on a deal on North Korea abandoning its nuclear and missile programmes.