Suspect phoned speaker’s aide

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Suspect phoned speaker’s aide

Police yesterday said the alleged culprit behind the by-election day cyberattack had multiple phone conversations with an aide to the speaker of the National Assembly while the National Election Commission’s Web site was paralyzed.

Tracing phone records of the suspect, Representative Choi Ku-sik’s driver surnamed Gong, police discovered that he had spoken by phone with the aide, surnamed Kim, five times between 7 and 9 a.m. on Oct. 26, the day of the election and cyberattack.

Kim tendered his resignation on Monday and underwent 10 hours of police questioning yesterday.

“We investigated Gong’s cell phone records from 11 p.m. on Oct. 25 and 9 a.m. on Oct. 26 and found he had conversations with three people eight times in total,” Hwang Un-ha, a National Police Agency official, said yesterday. “Two of them were just private conversations with Gong’s hometown friends, and the other was Kim.”

In a telephone interview with Yonhap News Agency, Kim denied that he was involved in the cybercrime.

“Gong drank too much the night before and couldn’t get up for work on time,” Kim said. “So I called him two or three times and told him to come to work immediately.”

Kim, Gong and others had met for drinks the night before election day.

“We usually talk on the phone in the morning to share our schedules,” Kim explained. “On the morning of election day, I heard about what happened after I left the drinking session because I left earlier than they did.”

Police said they would summon Kim to determine the nature of their conversations. Gong is in police custody, but he is still keeping mum and denying all allegations.

Prosecutors yesterday formed a special investigative team into the case, under the directive of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office.

“Because public outcry over the case is high, we launched the team for a thorough investigation,” a prosecution official said.

The NEC’s Web site was paralyzed for more than two hours on Oct. 26, preventing voters from finding their polling stations in an apparent attempt to curtail voter turnout, with analysts believing that a low turnout would benefit the ruling GNP.

Last week, police arrested two hackers and the driver, Gong, on suspicions of orchestrating the crime. Opposition lawmakers have maintained that higher-ranking GNP officials must have been involved other than the low-level aides already implicated.

By Kim Hee-jin []
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