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[Newsmaker] Arrest warrant hearing starts for TV reporter involved in collusion case

Lee Dong-jae, a former broadcast reporter at Channel A, walks Friday to attend his arrest warrant hearing after being accused of colluding with a prosecutor to take down a media personality. (Yonhap)
Lee Dong-jae, a former broadcast reporter at Channel A, walks Friday to attend his arrest warrant hearing after being accused of colluding with a prosecutor to take down a media personality. (Yonhap)
A Seoul court will decide on issuing an arrest warrant for a reporter accused of colluding with a prosecutor to take down a media personality friendly to the Moon Jae-in administration later Friday.

The Seoul Central District Court started a hearing at 10 a.m. upon the prosecution’s request for an arrest warrant for Lee Dong-jae from Channel A, a cable TV network owned by Dong-A Media Group, one of the largest media conglomerates here.

The allegation was first raised in an investigative report by public broadcaster MBC in March.

Lee has been under investigation for allegedly threatening former Value Invest Korea CEO Lee Cheol to whistleblow incriminating information on Rhyu Si-min, a liberal former politician with close ties to the Moon administration.

In the process, reporter Lee is accused of having told CEO Lee that Han Dong-hoon, a senior prosecutor at the Busan High Prosecutors’ Office and close ally of Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl, had his back. One of CEO Lee’s close allies argued that the reporter played a recording of his over-the-phone conversation with Han.

Investigators have considered the tape recording as an essential evidence in the case to prove the reporter’s collusion with the senior prosecutor. The reporter has been denying all the charges and refuted that the recording inversely shows that there was no collusion with Han.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office requested an arrest warrant for further investigation into the case, but no report to the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office was made beforehand following a feud between Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae and the prosecutor general.

On July 1, Choo in a rare move exercised her legal right to intervene in the collusion case and issued an ultimatum for Yoon to forgo his authority to supervise the investigation in the case, which was accepted later.

She also ordered to suspend convening an expert advisory panel that was formed to review the validity of the investigation into the collusion.

The decision on the arrest warrant is expected to be announced later on Friday night.

By Ko Jun-tae (ko.juntae@heraldcorp.com)
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