Questions for key guy in Yeongpo scandal

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Questions for key guy in Yeongpo scandal

The prosecution’s investigation into an alleged illegal surveillance case by the Prime Minister’s Office will go into high gear this week as it summons a key figure in the scandal today.

The prosecution said it will summon Lee In-kyu, a senior official at the public ethics division of the Prime Minister’s Office, as a suspect for questioning.

Prosecutors said the interrogation of Lee will focus on why Lee illegally investigated businessman Kim Jong-ik for two months in 2008, despite knowing that surveilling civilians is illegal. Public ethics officers in the Prime Minister’s Office are responsible for breaches of public ethics by government officials and are allowed to probe only public servants.

The prosecution will also ask Lee whom he reported the results of his investigation to, and whether those figure were outside the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Lee In-kyu case is central to a spreading abuse of power scandal in which top government officials close to President Lee Myung-bak are accused of using their offices to harass political opponents. Businessman Kim says he was investigated by the Prime Minister’s Office because he uploaded a video critical of the president from the Internet onto his blog. He says the investigation lost him his job and ruined his life.

The scandal is dubbed “Yeongpo-gate” because many of the involved government officials belong to a group of people from the Yeongil and Pohang areas called the Yeongpo Club. (Yeongpo is an abbreviated acronym of the two areas.) The president is from Pohang.

Whether Lee In-kyu or other Prime Minister’s Office officials helped get Kim dismissed as head of NS Hanmaum, a subcontractor of Kookmin Bank, will be investigated, prosecutors said. Since starting the Yeongpo-gate investigation on July 5, the prosecution has questioned Kim and several officials from the Prime Minister’s Office.


By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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