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Ex-spy chief faces charges for tipping reporters about false allegations vs Yoon

Park Jie-won served as the director of the National Intelligence Service from July 2020 to May 2022. (The Korea Herald)
Park Jie-won served as the director of the National Intelligence Service from July 2020 to May 2022. (The Korea Herald)
The Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials on Monday asked the prosecution for the indictment of former director of the National Intelligence Service, Park Jie-won, for telling reporters false allegations against then-presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol ahead of the election.

The CIO shared its findings with the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, which will decide whether to bring formal charges against Park.

According to the CIO, Park spoke to five reporters in September last year and told them he had evidence Yoon tried to influence the outcome of an investigation involving his close aide. The CIO found that this was tantamount to charges of defamation as well as the publication of false information under the laws on public official elections.

However, the CIO concluded that Park did not take advantage of his position as the chief of the spy agency or as a public official, and dismissed the charges of violating the National Intelligence Service Act.

The CIO added there was insufficient evidence that Park plotted with another party, entrepreneur-turned-politician Jo Sung-eun, to provide reporters with potentially damaging stories about Yoon and his allies.

In July last year, Jo contacted a news outlet with a tip-off that People Power Party Rep. Kim Woong received sensitive information about criminal complaints against Democratic Party of Korea figures from a senior prosecutor. The senior prosecutor worked as intel official at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office while Yoon was still the attorney general.

The CIO opened investigations against Park in October last year after Yoon’s legal team filed reports over claims that he conspired with two others, including Jo, to tip reporters off with the aim of hurting his chances at the election. As Jo is not a public official, her case will be reviewed by other law enforcement agencies.

By Kim Arin (arin@heraldcorp.com)
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