Prosecutors on Friday sought an arrest warrant for a Chinese national on charges of forging Chinese immigration records to help Seoul’s main spy agency frame a North Korean defector for espionage, prosecution officials said.
The 61-year-old ethnic Korean with Chinese nationality, only identified as his surname Kim, is under suspicion of forging immigration records purporting to be the defector’s and handing them over to the National Intelligence Service, they said.
After putting Kim under an emergency arrest from a Seoul hospital where he was recovering from a suicide attempt last week, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office in Seoul probing the case said it has asked a court to issue the warrant to further question him.
The Seoul Central District Court will hold a hearing Saturday to review the prosecution’s request and determine whether to issue an arrest warrant for Kim, court officials said.
The high-profile case involving Yoo Woo-seong, a 34-year-old defector who worked for the Seoul city government, began when prosecutors charged him with carrying out espionage activities for Pyongyang’s spy agency.
After a local district court acquitted Yoo of espionage charges in August 2013, allegations have risen that the NIS obtained or produced the fake immigration records and handed them over to the prosecution.
During previous rounds of questioning, Kim told investigators that he fabricated at least one of three immigration records that the NIS was aware of the forgery, prosecutors said.
Meanwhile, an NIS agent was called in by prosecutors Friday to face questioning over suspicions that he received the alleged forged immigration records from Kim, sources at the prosecution office said.
The prosecution office summoned the midranking agent, only identified as his surname Kim, as a suspect in the case, the sources said.
The latest development is dealing another blow to the NIS, which is still reeling from allegations that it attempted to sway public opinion ahead of the 2012 presidential election.
The country’s main opposition party is urging President Park Geun-hye to reprimand the NIS chief, saying that the agency deceived the public with the alleged false evidence.
Civic groups also demanded Park to revamp the NIS as the public lost credibility in the intelligence agents for allegedly fixing key evidence in a court case. (Yonhap)