The Seoul Central District Court said on Tuesday that it had issued a warrant to detain the National Intelligence Service’s former director of security investigations, surnamed Lee, citing the risk that he might destroy evidence.
The public security department within the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office filed a request last Thursday for a court warrant to detain Lee on charges of issuing fraudulent government documents, concealing evidence and engaging in other misconduct.
In 2013 a former Seoul City employee, surnamed Yoo, was indicted on espionage charges, suspected of handing over information on around 200 North Korean defectors to Pyongyang agents.
During Yoo’s trial from September through December 2013, Lee allegedly had a fraudulent document submitted to the court, one purportedly issued by the South Korean government and documenting Yoo’s travels across the China-North Korea border.
When such allegations were raised, Lee intentionally withheld evidence that investigators had requested and interfered with the probe by submitting modified documents the following year, prosecutors said.
The prosecution launched a team to investigate suspicions that evidence was fabricated during Yoo’s trial and indicted Lee and another spy agency official, surnamed Kim. They sought to determine whether the agency’s chief and deputy chief were also involved, but did not find enough evidence to indict them.
Yoo was declared not guilty of the espionage charges. Kim was sentenced to four years in prison, and Lee was slapped with a fine of 10 million won.
After the Moon Jae-in administration came to power, the prosecution resumed the probe upon the request of a new government task force.
By Kim So-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)