Washington - 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 U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, 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 Kim Jong Nam's relationship with the CIA remained unclear.
Reuters could not independently confirm the story. The CIA declined to comment.
The Journal quoted the person as saying "There was a nexus" between the CIA and Kim Jong Nam.
"Several former U.S. 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 Kim Jong Nam had been almost certainly in contact with security services of other countries, particularly China's, the Journal said.
South Korean and U.S. officials have said the North Korean authorities had ordered the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, who had been critical of his family's dynastic rule. Pyongyang has denied the allegation.
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 Doan Thi Huong, who is Vietnamese, in May, and Indonesian Siti Aisyah in March.
According to the Journal, the person said Kim Jong Nam had traveled to Malaysia in February 2017 to meet his CIA contact, although that may not have been the sole purpose of the trip.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un have met twice, in Hanoi in February and Singapore last June, seeming to build personal goodwill but failing to agree on a deal to lift U.S. sanctions in exchange for North Korea abandoning its nuclear and missile programs.
South Korean agencies cannot confirm reports
South Korean agencies say they cannot confirm a report that the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was a U.S. intelligence source and traveled to Malaysia to meet his CIA contact before being assassinated there in 2017.
Officials at South Korea's National Intelligence Service and Unification Ministry said Tuesday they couldn't confirm Monday's report by The Wall Street Journal, which attributed the details to an unidentified "person knowledgeable about the matter."
It's extremely difficult to verify information about North Korea's ruling family.
Kim Jong Nam was killed by VX nerve agent. Murder charges were dropped against the two women who smeared it on his face.
The Journal said Kim Jong Nam met several times with CIA operatives but details of his relationship with the agency remain unclear.