Court denies arrest warrant for Gov. Kim in opinion rigging scandal

By Yonhap
  • Published : Aug 18, 2018 - 10:38
  • Updated : Aug 18, 2018 - 10:38

A Seoul court on Saturday refused to grant an arrest warrant for South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo over his alleged involvement in a massive opinion-rigging case.

The Seoul Central District Court said the charges against Kim are disputable and that he presents little risk of fleeing given his current position. 

Special Counsel Huh Ik-bum has been investigating suspicion that he colluded with Kim Dong-won, better known by his nickname Druking, to manipulate comments in news articles to benefit the ruling Democratic Party.

The special prosecution questioned him twice this month, and filed for the arrest warrant on Wednesday on the charge of digital business obstruction.

He's accused of artificially jacking up likes on Internet news articles about DP, then main opposition, and its then-presidential front-runner Moon Jae-in in November 2016.

Druking argues he got "a nod" from the governor to carry out the scheme to influence public sentiment in favor of the party. He claims he showed him a demonstration of a computer program designed for such tasks.

Kim has denied the allegations. He admitted he had met Druking at his publishing company office but never saw any presentation about a computer program.

Special prosecutors have been digging into the case with strong suspicion that Druking and the governor worked together to sway public sentiment in the lead up to the June local elections. But they did not charge Kim on violation of the election law in Wednesday's warrant, apparently due to a lack of evidence.

The high-profile scandal has drawn heated media attention. Kim is known as a close aide to President Moon and is billed as a potential presidential candidate. (Yonhap)