Go to contents

Prosecution causes a stir by unreasonable indictment for Won Sei-hoon

Prosecution causes a stir by unreasonable indictment for Won Sei-hoon

Posted September. 12, 2014 09:34,   


Seoul Central District Court decided that the internet and twitter postings by National Intelligence Service (NIS) agents who followed direction by the former NIS director Won Sei-hoon violate the NIS Act that prohibits intelligence officials from interfering in domestic politics. The court sentenced the former government intelligence chief to two years and six months in prison. However, the court acquitted Won of alleged meddling in the 2012 Presidential election. “NIS agents participated in the cyber campaigns following an order from ‘NIS director’s direction,’ but there was no evidence that Won ordered to support a specific candidate or get involved in the election,” said the central court which judged that the NIS agents’ cyber campaigns did not consist of violation of the Public Official Election Act.

Prosecution’s indictment of the former NIS director for accusation of meddling in the Presidential election sparked movement to defy the result among political groups defeated in the election. Catholic Priests` Association for Justice (CPAJ) and other opposition party supporting groups made public their stance not to accept the presidential election result. The New Politics Alliance for Democracy attempted to have distance from the group that defies the election result. But Pro-Roh group led by Rep. Moon Jae-in openly argued, “Last year’s presidential election was unfair and tainted and President Park Geun-hye was benefited.”

Even the prosecution was divided over the former NIS chief’s allegation of interfering the presidential election. Yoon Seok-yeol, former leader of the NIS cyber campaign special investigation team, claimed it consisted of the election act violation. While Lee Jin-han and Jo Young-gon, who led the investigation of Seoul Central District Prosecutor`s Office, took opposite side. During the process, controversy over external pressure and insubordination was evoked. As a result, the investigation team leader Yoon was disciplined and the former district attorney Jo resigned. The verdict of the first trial takes side of the investigation leaders, rather than the investigation team. It is hard for prosecution’s investigation team to avoid criticism that they caused a stir in the nation by unreasonable indictment.

In February, prior to this verdict, former commissioner of the Seoul Central District Prosecutor`s Office Kim Yong-pan was found not guilty of charges that he impeded investigation on the NIS online. Testimony of Kwon Eun-hee, a lead investigator on the NIS case, was the key evidence behind the indictment against Kim. However, the court decided that credibility lacks in her testimony. The two acquittal cases identically shows that harmful consequences can be generated when the Prosecution and Police push ahead with politically sensitive investigation based on the prejudice without sufficient evidence. It is also hasty for the opposition to call the verdict of first trial as “political verdict.”

Former NIS chief Won should have through reflection over the court’s decision to admit NIS’ involvement in politics. As he made confusing orders to the intelligence agents in the form of ‘Director’s direction,’ the government intelligence happened to meddle in the politics. As a result, NIS has no choice but to disband the agents assigned to psychological warfare, leading to a serious aftermath in which the valid psychological warfare against North Korea bears the brunt.