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Probe of Lee, associates focuses on suspected links with N. Korea

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Published : 2013-09-09 20:37
Updated : 2013-09-09 20:37

The investigation into the Unified Progressive Party’s Rep. Lee Seok-ki is picking up pace with the country’s spy agency focusing on a possible connection between Lee’s organization and North Korea.

Lee is accused of plotting a revolt and forming the anti-government group Revolutionary Organization. Since Lee was detained on Thursday, the NIS has added “siding with the enemy” to the UPP lawmaker’s charges. Article 93 of the Criminal Act stipulates that fighting against Korea by joining an enemy is punishable by death. Other UPP lawmakers including Rep. Kim Jae-yeon have also been implicated in the case.

According to reports, the NIS has secured evidence of those accused of being part of Lee’s Revolutionary Organization ― Hong Soon-seok, Han Dong-geun and Lee Sang-ho ― contacting North Korean agents through third parties based in China and the U.S.
North Korean defectors call for Rep. Lee Seok-ki to be punished and the Unified Progressive Party’s disbandment outside the minor opposition’s office in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap News)

Hong, Han and Lee ― respectively the UPP’s Gyeonggi Province branch chief, chief of the party’s Suwon office and an adviser at a progressive group based in Gyeonggi Province ― have been in detention since late August.

In addition, the NIS also summoned the Korean Federation of Labor Unions’ Goyang-Paju office chief Lee Young-choon for questioning on Monday, and plan to summon others including former UPP spokesperson Woo Wi-young during the first half of the week.

As for Lee, he is reported to be refusing to cooperate with the investigators as are the three in detention in connection with the case.

The NIS’ questioning is said to be focused on confirming Lee’s status as the head of the Revolutionary Organization.

Authorities, however, are reported to be confident of a conviction based on the evidence collected.

Since raiding Lee’s home, office and several other locations connected to his party and to progressive political groups and labor activists, the spy agency is said to have expanded the investigation to 130 or so individuals linked to the Revolutionary Organization.

The NIS is said to be planning to focus first on ranking officials from the list of about 90 identified individuals who attended the Revolutionary Organization meeting in May last year, and to expand the questioning to all members of the organization.

The spy agency is also taking steps against those who interfered with its raids on Lee’s office the National Assembly.

According to the NIS, a investigation request for 27 UPP officials who intervened during the raid and the process of taking Lee into custody have been submitted to the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office.

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

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