Investigators looking into allegations surrounding a former inspector with the presidential office on Wednesday searched related Cheong Wa Dae facilities.
According to the presidential office, investigators from the Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors’ Office conducted the search as part of an investigation in response to a criminal complaint filed by the main opposition Liberty Korea Party.
He added that the presidential office had “cooperated according to protocol.”
The conservative opposition party filed the complaint against top aides to President Moon Jae-in, alleging abuse of authority and dereliction of duty in connection with what the party claims to be illegal surveillance of civilians by Cheong Wa Dae.
Presidential aides named in the complaint include Moon’s chief of staff Lim Jong-seok, Senior Civil Affairs Secretary Cho Kuk, and Park Hyoung-chul, the anti-corruption secretary.
The scandal broke out last month when Kim Tae-woo, a former member of Cheong Wa Dae’s special inspection team, alleged that he had been dismissed for collecting intelligence on Korean Ambassador to Russia Woo Yoon-keun.
Kim said he had gathered evidence that Woo had received illegal political funding, but that Cheong Wa Dae had ignored the report due to Woo’s connections to the administration.
Kim has since claimed that a number of his reports about individuals with connections to Cheong Wa Dae and the ruling Democratic Party were ignored by the presidential office and that he was ordered to collect information about civilians.
According to Cheong Wa Dae, however, Kim was removed from the inspection team after a number of potentially illegal actions came to light. Kim, who works at the prosecutors’ office but has been part of presidential inspection teams for three different administrations, has returned to the prosecution and has since been placed under internal probe.
The presidential office, which denies all allegations raised by Kim, has filed a criminal complaint against Kim, accusing the former inspector of making false accusations and divulging information gained as part of his official duties.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)