NLL transcript surrendered by state spy agency

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NLL transcript surrendered by state spy agency

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The nation’s main spy agency yesterday gave prosecutors transcripts of conversations by former President Roh Moo-hyun with former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il at a 2007 summit.

But prosecutors haven’t determined if they have the legal right to examine them. And taking into account the explosiveness of the issue - Roh has been accused of pandering to Kim by disavowing the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border in the west - the prosecution said it won’t make any decision on how to handle the documents before the presidential election is over tomorrow, sources said.

According to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, the National Intelligence Service provided it with records on the 2007 inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang.

“We received the relevant data from the National Intelligence Service,” said Lee Keum-ro, deputy head of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office. “We, however, cannot reveal any further details.”

Controversy over the 2007 inter-Korean summit flared in October after a Saenuri Party lawmaker accused Roh of having disavowed the Northern Limit Line during his meeting with Kim. After Representative Chung Moon-hun made the revelation, the ruling party used it to attack Moon Jae-in, the presidential candidate of the opposition Democratic United Party, who served as Roh’s chief of staff at the time of the summit. In turn, the DUP condemned the Saenuri Party for making groundless accusations for political gains before the election.

According to sources, the NIS submitted a sealed envelope containing about 100 pages of documents.

The records include excerpts of dialogue between the two late leaders at the summit, but prosecutors are reviewing if they can read the materials or not. If the documents are sealed under the Presidential Records Act, access to the documents is prohibited under the law.

The prosecution has not opened the envelope.

If the documents are considered presidential records of the state archive, the prosecution is barred from checking their contents. If they are treated as public records stored by a government office - in this case, the National Intelligence Service - the prosecutors have the right to view the contents for their investigation.

Under the law established at the end of the Roh presidency, documents designated as presidential records can be sealed for up to 30 years at the state archive.

“Not all secret remarks of a president are covered by the Presidential Records Act,” said a senior prosecution official. “Only those put under special orders are presidential records. Since the NIS submitted it as evidence, the prosecution will have to look into it.”

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office is currently handling five cases involving Roh’s alleged remarks on the NLL. The DUP pressed charges against Chun Yung-woo, presidential senior secretary for foreign and security affairs, on charges of violating the Presidential Records Act after he said he had seen the dialogue transcript.

The DUP also pressed charges against three Saenuri officials including Representative Chung who made the first accusation on charges of making false accusations.

The three Saenuri members fired back at the DUP by suing it for making false accusations against them.

Separately, Representative Suh Sang-kee of the Saenuri Party pressed charges against NIS Chief Won Sei-hoon for refusing to submit the copy of the dialogue transcript for violating the law on testimony before the legislature. Suh also pressed charges against DUP candidate Moon for defaming the unification minister.

Candidate Moon, who is in a neck-and-neck race with the Saenuri’s Park Geung-hye, reiterated his earlier positions that Roh made no controversial remarks on the NLL during the 2007 summit.

“You don’t have to worry that the NLL dialogue would be made public and that it will contain something that is disadvantageous to me,” Moon said during campaigning in Incheon yesterday.

The Saenuri Party’s Representative Suh said yesterday that the summit dialogue is no longer confidential since the NIS submitted the data to the prosecution. “If the prosecution decides to drop the charges against Representative Chung for having made public false information, we can see that his arguments were true,” Suh said.

By Moon Byung-joo, Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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