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[Newsmaker] Former spy chief accused of political intervention

[Newsmaker] Former spy chief accused of political intervention

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Published : 2013-03-25 19:45
Updated : 2013-03-25 19:45

Won Se-hoon, former right-hand man to then-President Lee Myung-bak, faces a prosecution investigation just days after he resigned Thursday as chief of the National Intelligence Service.

The prosecution banned him from leaving the country on Saturday pending an investigation into allegations that he directed his agents to carry out what critics call smear campaigns against opposition politicians and progressive activists.

Won reportedly had planned on taking up a research post at Stanford University. A group of activists gathered Sunday at Incheon International Airport on Sunday to block him from going on the trip. 
Won Se-hoon. (The Korea Herald)

Five legal complaints have been filed against Won in relation to the alleged NIS operation to influence last year’s presidential election, as well as reports of embezzlement and corruption.

An NIS agent identified by the surname Kim has been accused of posting online comments about presidential candidates in the run up to the Dec. 19 election in an attempt to influence public opinion. The agent’s actions and other possible interference from the NIS are said to have been carried out according to Won’s orders.

The case is currently being investigated by public prosecutors, at the end of which a parliamentary investigation will be launched.

In addition, the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union have accused the former spy chief of oppressing its activities. The union filed a complaint with the public prosecutors’ office, and filed a civil suit against him on Monday. 

If the investigations lead to legal action, Won will be following in the footsteps of nearly one-third of his predecessors. Of the 20 individuals who have served as the nation’s spy chief since 1980, eight have been indicted while Kim Man-bok received a suspended indictment for revealing classified information in a contribution to a Japanese newspaper. Kim served as the 28th chief of the NIS between November 2006 and February 2008.

By Choi He-suk  (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)

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