|Lawyer Oh Young-joong (third from left) accuses the National Intelligence Service of psychologically torturing a suspect and violating the rights of a disabled minor outside the National Human Rights Commission in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap News)|
The National Intelligence Service on Thursday was accused of psychological torture, adding a human rights violation to the growing list of its alleged wrongdoings.
Since December, the NIS has been under fire from the opposition bloc, which accused it of meddling in the 2012 presidential election to bolster President Park Geun-hye’s campaign.
According to lawyer Oh Young-joong, NIS officials honed in on the fact that his client has a disabled son when he refused to answer questions on Dec. 30.
Oh claimed that a NIS investigator identified by the surname Ha repeatedly questioned his client about his disabled son.
“You keep refusing to answer. Does that mean you don’t care about what happens to your son?” Oh quoted the NIS investigator Ha as saying.
The client, identified by his surname Song, is a member of the Unified Progressive Party, and is under investigation in connection to a revolt attempt allegedly masterminded by Rep. Lee Seok-ki.
Lee is accused of planning a revolt using a group known as the Revolutionary Organization, or RO, which allegedly comprises Lee’s supporters and members of the UPP.
“About two days afterward, the NIS called and said that the questions (regarding Song’s son) were posed purely out of the investigator’s curiosity,” Oh said.
“But, questions about the son were also asked by a higher ranking official at an earlier questioning. (The questions) gave me the impression that they were using the suspect’s weakness against him.”
Oh said that he plans to bring the matter to the attention of lawmakers, particularly those on the special committee for NIS reform, and attempt to include human rights protection measures to the reform plans the committee draws up.
The latest accusation against the spy agency comes just as the main opposition Democratic Party took up the developments surrounding the Seongnam mayor as a key agenda.
According to Lee Jae-myung, the mayor of Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, an NIS agent attempted to gain access to his master’s degree thesis from Gachon University. Lee’s thesis is currently under review by the university’s ethics board for plagiarism.
The Seongnam mayor has disclosed a recording of his conversation with Gachon University’s deputy chief as evidence. Lee also accused the NIS of collecting unnecessary information regarding the Seongnam government’s dealings with nongovernmental organizations in the city.
The NIS, however, denied any wrongdoings on its part, saying that the concerned official only raised the issue during a personal meeting with a Gachon University official.
As for collection of NGO-related information, the NIS claims that it was part of its investigation into the RO.
In September, Seongnam’s Rep. Kim Mi-hyui of the UPP and the city’s civic organizations were linked to investigations regarding the RO, inciting vehement criticism from the concerned parties.
By Choi He-suk