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Police uncover spycams at 40 polling, ballot counting locations

By Lee Jung-joo

Published : March 31, 2024 - 17:17

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A person in charge of election work checks for illegal cameras at an early voting station in Daegu on Friday. (Yonhap) A person in charge of election work checks for illegal cameras at an early voting station in Daegu on Friday. (Yonhap)

Illegal spycams were discovered at approximately 40 locations nationwide, including polling stations and vote counting venues designated for early voting ahead of the April 10 general election, according to officials from Nonhyeon Police Station in Incheon on Saturday.

A suspect appeared for a review of his arrest warrant at the Incheon District Court on Sunday, after police had announced Friday that the suspect in his 40s had been apprehended on Thursday for allegedly installing cameras inside polling stations in Incheon and Yangsan, South Gyeongsang Province.

When asked by local media why he had installed the cameras, the suspect answered Sunday that he “wanted to check the number of early voters.”

Early voting for the general election takes place on Friday and Saturday.

The suspect also mentioned “feeling suspicious about the significant disparities between (the outcomes) of early voting and the main voting.”

According to police, the suspect has been identified as a far-right YouTuber who has frequently raised suspicions regarding fraudulent elections, such as proxy voting or vote-counting machines being manipulated. During last year’s by-election for the head of Gangseo-gu in Seoul, the suspect was also found to have installed cameras at early voting stations.

Many of the cameras installed by the suspect were disguised as telecommunications equipment, in the shape of charging adapters with stickers bearing the names of carriers.

While the Ministry of Interior and Safety initially reported that it had found illegal cameras installed at 26 places, including early vote polling stations, police officials on Saturday identified another 14 locations upon further investigation.

The cameras installed by the suspect were initially found only in Incheon and Yangsan. However, police found more spy cameras in various other locations nationwide, including Seoul, Busan, Ulsan and Daegu, as well as other cities in South Gyeongsang Province and Gyeonggi Province, after conducting emergency investigations with the Interior Ministry.

Police are also continuously investigating whether there are additional cameras installed other than those currently found, believing that there are more cameras installed by the suspect that have not yet been discovered.

The National Election Commission said Friday it was conducting emergency inspections of early voting stations with the Ministry of Interior and Safety and local governments to see if there were any other spy cameras installed.

“We plan to conduct a final inspection once again when early voting polls are installed on April 4,” said the NEC.

A file photo shows a picture of an illegal camera disguised as a charging adapter that was found at an early voting station in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang Province. (Gyeongnam Provincial Police) A file photo shows a picture of an illegal camera disguised as a charging adapter that was found at an early voting station in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang Province. (Gyeongnam Provincial Police)