South Korea's ex-spy chief indicted in election scandal
SEOUL - The Associated Press
In this April 30, 2013 file photo, former National Intelligence Service director Won Sei-hoon, center, leaves Supreme Prosecutors' Office after being summoned, in Seoul, South Korea. AP photoSouth Korea's former spy chief has been indicted on charges of meddling in last year's presidential election by ordering an online smear campaign against opposition candidates and their parties, prosecutors said Friday.
Won Sei-hoon saw opposition figures as North Korean sympathizers and instructed senior National Intelligence Service officials to prevent them from gaining support on the Internet ahead of elections, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office said in a statement.
Under his order, NIS expanded its "psychological warfare" squads and its agents posted comments criticizing liberal candidates and praising conservative Park Geun-hye, prosecutors said. NIS agents tried to portray opposition candidate Moon Jae-in as too soft on North Korea and unqualified to protect South Korea against North Korean threats, prosecutors said.
Park won the December vote by a million votes and took office in February. It is not clear if or how the effort affected the elections.
The indictment adds to troubles for the spy agency, which has been criticized in recent years for failing to have timely intelligence about North Korea.
Won resigned as National Intelligence Service chief in March after serving four years under conservative President Lee Myung-bak. Prosecution officials raided NIS in Seoul in late April.
NIS wouldn't comment on the allegations, and said it will seek a fair ruling in a coming trial.
Under a law governing the agency, Won would face up to five years' imprisonment if found guilty.
The opposition party threatened this week to impeach the justice minister over the scandal.