Published : 2013-10-21 13:51
Updated : 2013-10-21 13:51
Rival political parties stepped up their attacks on each other Monday amid fresh claims about the state intelligence agency's alleged meddling in last year's presidential election.
Last week, Rep. Kim Kwang-jin of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) claimed that members of the defense ministry's cyber warfare command conducted an online smear campaign against then opposition presidential candidate Moon Jae-in in a bid to sway public opinion in favor of the ruling party ahead of the December election.
The opposition party has linked the operations to a similar smear campaign allegedly conducted by National Intelligence Service (NIS) agents ahead of the election.
The scandal surrounding the spy agency has been a persistent source of conflict between the two parties. The DP even took to the streets in August, demanding President Park Geun-hye apologize over the scandal and take steps to punish those responsible and reform the spy agency.
On Sunday, the DP raised fresh allegations that the NIS agents posted more than 55,000 messages on Twitter during the presidential race in order to manipulate public opinion.
The party also claimed that the prosecution, under pressure from the government, recently dismissed a senior prosecutor from leading an investigation into the alleged tweets after he arrested three NIS agents suspected of posting the messages.
The ruling Saenuri Party has rejected the claims, saying the prosecutor was dismissed for neglecting his responsibility to report the arrests in advance to the justice minister and the head of the Supreme Prosecutors' Office.
"Ten months after the election, the DP is still unable to shake off the specter of losing the election and continues to resort to street politics, which is no different from dreaming in one's sleep," Rep. Yoo Ki-june of the ruling party said at a Supreme Council meeting. "Who is going to take responsibility for that?"
The DP defended the senior prosecutor, Yun Seok-yeol, for aggressively pursuing the investigation into the alleged tweets.
"If Prosecutor Yun had kept silent after discovering the NIS' Twitter messages, he could not be called a prosecutor," Rep. Shin Kyoung-min of the DP said at his party's Supreme Council meeting.
"In the same way, if a president keeps silent on injustice, it would be difficult to call (him or her) an ordinary president or a normal president," he added, apparently referring to President Park. (Yonhap news)