News / Asia

Former S. Korean Spy Chief Indicted for Meddling in Election

Former National Intelligence Service director Won Sei-hoon, center, leaves Supreme Prosecutors' Office, in Seoul, South Korea, (File photo).
Former National Intelligence Service director Won Sei-hoon, center, leaves Supreme Prosecutors' Office, in Seoul, South Korea, (File photo).
The former head of South Korea's main intelligence agency has been indicted. He is accused of meddling in last year's presidential election.

Prosecutors said Won Sei-hoon, who headed South Korea's National Intelligence Service [NIS] until three months ago, ordered NIS agents to post comments online slandering opposition candidates and praising conservative presidential hopeful Park Geun-hye.

Park won last December's election.

Won, a former deputy mayor of Seoul, who was appointed to head the NIS by then-President Lee Myung-bak in 2009, faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors allege that as part of the online smear campaign, intelligence agents intimated that the main opposition contender, Moon Jae-in of the Democratic United Party, was too soft to protect the country from North Korean threats.

Lee Jin-han, is a senior prosecutor in Seoul.

Speaking at a news conference, Lee said prosecutors conducted a principled and fair investigation with consistent security and no sanctuary for anyone under suspicion.

Prosecutors said the former head of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, Kim Yong-pan, has also been indicted. He is accused of abusing his authority by pressuring police department investigators not to look deeply into the allegations against the spy agency.

Still pending are possible charges against several current or former agents of the anti-North Korea psychological warfare team at the NIS. Investigators said they might avoid indictment as it appears they carried out online activities supporting Park and attacking opposition candidates under orders of the spy chief.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

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