LONDON The son of a high-ranking IOC member says he will go to international courts if necessary to fight extradition to the United States on charges related to the Salt Lake bribery case.
South Korea's John Kim has been jailed in Bulgaria for more than five months on U.S. charges of immigration fraud stemming from a job arranged by leaders of Salt Lake's bid for the 2002 Winter Games.
Kim was arrested May 18 on an Interpol warrant when he arrived in Sofia from Paris at the invitation of the Bulgarian Olympic Committee. He was ordered extradited by a Bulgarian court Oct. 10, but he's appealing that decision and expects a ruling in the next two weeks.
If he loses, Kim said he and the South Korean government would go to the World Court in the Netherlands or the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.
"I will fight this to the end," Kim told the Associated Press by telephone from the Sofia prison.
Kim, who has always denied any wrongdoing, will be in jail thousands of miles away when Salt Lake bid chief Tom Welch and deputy Dave Johnson go on trial in federal court in the Utah capital starting next Tuesday.
"I wish them the best of the luck God bless them," Kim said. "Tom Welch and Dave Johnson are wonderful people. They are good friends. They didn't make a mockery of the U.S. They did something for their town, their state and their country. They were doing exactly what the international community was doing."
Kim is the son of Kim Un-yong, a vice president of the International Olympic Committee. The elder Kim received a serious warning from the IOC in 1999 after an investigation into the inducements offered IOC members by Salt Lake bidders, a scandal that led to the expulsion or resignation of 10 IOC members.
John Kim, one of three minor players indicted in the case, is accused of lying to FBI agents and using a fraudulently obtained green card for a "sham" job allegedly arranged by Welch.
Kim, who was living in New York, fled to South Korea before his September 1999 indictment and never returned. Kim maintains he did legitimate consulting work in 1991 and 1992 for David Simmons, a Utah telecommunications executive who pleaded guilty to tax fraud in August 1999 related to Kim's job.
"They say it was a no-show job," Kim said. "You don't have to be the office from 9 to 5. I was a salesman for Asia."
Kim said the Justice Department offered him a plea bargain deal in 1999, but he refused.
"If I plead guilty, can you imagine the damaging effect on my father's campaign?" he said, referring to the elder Kim's candidacy for the IOC presidency. The senior Kim lost to Jacques Rogge in the 2001 IOC presidential election.
In the interview, Kim said he will continue to fight extradition on grounds Bulgaria has no extradition treaty with the United States. He and his lawyers contend a 1924 legal assistance accord with the United States, on which the Bulgarian judge based his decision, was annulled in 1951.
Kim said he was suffering from diabetic conditions and high blood pressure. The Bulgarian court has rejected several requests for him to be kept under house arrest.
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