A Seoul court has ordered the nation’s spy agency to release the transcript of a 2007 summit between late President Roh Moo-hyun and then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, saying the agency’s refusal to disclose it is “unfair,” court officials said Sunday.
In June last year, a progressive civic group filed a lawsuit with the Seoul Administrative Court demanding the National Intelligence Service disclose the full text of the transcript and its excerpt, after the spy agency turned down its request for disclosure.
The NIS, which was charged with violating the act on presidential records at that time by allegedly leaking the transcript to ruling party lawmakers, refused to reveal them, saying the disclosure could make it difficult to conduct its own investigation into the leakage of the minutes.
“It is unfair for the NIS to reject the civic group’s request, and it should release the transcript of the inter-Korean summit,” the court said.
Considering that its content has been widely reported in the press and it is easy to obtain the material on the Internet, the disclosure of the transcript would not be likely to hamper its investigation and reveal its investigative procedures, the court said.
The NIS was found to have produced two copies of the transcript and kept one of them. The other should have been kept at the national archives.
Last year, lawmakers of the ruling and main opposition parties searched through the national archives but found the transcript was missing. It was later revealed that two former aides to Roh deleted it from the electronic archives and did not transfer it to the state archives at Roh’s instruction, according to the prosecution.
In October 2012, Rep. Chung Moon-hun of the ruling Saenuri Party sparked a political dispute by claiming, during a parliamentary inspection into the unification ministry, that Roh had suggested giving up the western sea border with North Korea during his talks with Kim.
On June 9 this year, Chung was summarily indicted for allegedly relaying details of what he saw in the transcript while working as a presidential secretary on reunification affairs to the party in a bid to help win voters’ support for his party during the 2012 presidential election. The prosecution also sought a 5 million won fine (US$4,870) against the lawmaker.
Rejecting the prosecution’s request, however, a local court ordered the lawmaker on June 17 to go on trial for his alleged leak of the classified transcript. The first court hearing for Chung is scheduled for Aug. 18.
Last month, the prosecution cleared eight other politicians and officials, including Rep. Kim Moo-sung of the ruling party and former NIS chief Nam Jae-joon, of suspicions that they had been involved in the alleged information leak. (Yonhap)