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Prosecutors to Investigate Spy Chief

Posted January. 19, 2008 01:06,   


Prosecutors are set to investigate Chief of National Intelligence Service Kim Man-bok, on allegations that he leaked a classified transcript of his dialogue with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yang Gon, and an official agency report about his North Korea trip to the JoongAng Ilbo and to 14 people, including former employees of the NIS, said sources on Friday.

“As far as I know, the majority of people inside the prosecution believe that the case should be investigated,” a prosecution official said.

After consultation with the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Prosecutors` Office, and the Seoul District Prosecutors` Office on whether the contents of the transcript and the report were classified, the prosecution tentatively concluded that an investigation into the case was required.

Once these internal deliberations are finalized early next week, prosecutors can be expected to follow-up with a detailed announcement about how the investigation will be carried out.

Prosecutors are more inclined to carry out an investigation because the leaked documents contain intelligence which can potentially undermine national interest if disclosed to the public.

The following reason also served as a determining factor: Kim leaked the entire NIS report, which detailed his mission to Pyongyang and is considered more sensitive than the transcript of his conversation with his North Korean counterpart to the JoongAng Ilbo. The same report was briefed to the presidential transition team.

Once prosecutors launch their investigation, Kim is highly likely to face charges of leaking classified information while serving as a government official.

Regardless of whether or not the documents were confidential, prosecutors are also expected to investigate the reasons for Kim’s Dec. 18 trip to Pyongyang, just one day before the presidential election.

In response, the spy agency defended its chief, saying, “Kim visited North Korea to install a marker stone for a tree that President Roh Moo-hyun planted during the second inter-Korea summit.”