[THE INVESTOR] Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon on Sept. 19 asked state prosecutors to investigate former President Lee Myung-bak and now-imprisoned former spy chief Won Sei-hoon for an alleged covert smear campaign against him during the Lee administration.
The liberal civic-activist-turned mayor filed a complaint with the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office, via his attorney, against a total of 11 -- Lee, Won and nine others at the National Intelligence Service -- on possible charges of abuse of power, defamation and violation of NIS laws.
This came after the NIS’ internal task force for reform last week confirmed the discovery of two documents detailing the spy agency’s covert operation targeting Park, then a civic campaigner. The documents were reportedly written under the then NIS chief Won’s direction.
According to documents, the Lee government labeled Park pro-North Korea, and drafted internal reports on ways to block his political influence.
The documents also contained ways to induce conservative civic groups to bolster their campaigns against Park’s key policies and spread rumors online maligning him and his family from 2009-2011. Lee’s presidency lasted from 2008-2013.
Park said on Sept. 19 that the NIS internal reports were evidence of political oppression not only against him and his family, but also against unemployed youths, non-regular workers who he sought to better protect and Seoul citizens as a whole.
“Abuse of power must be stamped out as it hurts the foundation of democracy. (My legal action) is not a move for the sake of the past, but one for a better future,” Park said.
He demanded a thorough inquiry by prosecutors, insisting suppression of him and his activity must have continued throughout the Park Geun-hye administration. Park succeeded Lee, elongating the conservative rule.
“Former President Lee abused his authority and power to spoil the national foundation and the essence of democracy.
Following Park’s accusation on Sept. 19, the prosecutorial probe is drawing attention if the ongoing investigation will target the former President Lee Myung-bak.
Former President Lee refused to comment. “We do not see the need for a response,” an aide was quoted by Yonhap News Agency.
After liberal President Moon Jae-in took office in May, an internal NIS probe team was set up to investigate the covert smear campaigns allegedly led by Won.
The prosecution is currently investigating the NIS’ alleged compiling of a so-called blacklist of some 80 cultural figures critical of the conservative government, following suspicions that two top ex-NIS officials are involved in giving such figures disadvantages.
By Kim Da-sol/The Korea Herald (firstname.lastname@example.org)