Prosecutors raid two NIS whistleblowers

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Prosecutors raid two NIS whistleblowers

Prosecutors yesterday raided the homes of two former National Intelligence Service agents who allegedly leaked internal documents from the spy agency to the opposition Democratic United Party ahead of the presidential election last year, a violation of intelligence agents’ code of conduct.

A special team of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday conducted a search and seizure operation at the homes of the two former agents identified as Jung and Kim to find evidence of the leak. The investigators also raided the home of a non-spy surnamed Jang implicated in the leak.

Under the law, NIS agents are strictly barred from distributing internal documents or information from the spy agency.

A group of officials from the NIS has been accused of violating the agency’s political neutrality by posting a series of Internet messages critical of opposition candidate Moon Jae-in of the DUP before the presidential election.

The smear campaign was allegedly conducted by a now-disbanded psychological operations bureau at the NIS in a bid to manipulate public opinion.

The leaks allegedly relate to that operation.

Prosecutors said agent Jung allegedly told a retired agent surnamed Kim about the Internet messages critical of Moon. Kim was connected with the DUP and even tried being a candidate for the party in the general election of April 2012.

Neither Jung nor Kim worked for the psychological operations bureau, a prosecutor involved in the case told the JoongAng Ilbo.

After becoming aware of the security breach, the NIS dismissed Jung and sued both Jung and Kim on charges of leaking classified information.

The leaked information also contained instructions allegedly delivered by Won Sei-hoon, an ally of former president Lee Myung-bak, who led the spy agency from February 2009 until February of this year, when he stepped down from his post.

The documents allegedly showed that the former chief, who was summoned for a 14-hour grilling by prosecutors Monday, instructed NIS agents to promote major policy projects of the Lee administration, raising suspicions that the spy agency was intervening in domestic politics.

By Lee Ka-young, Kang Jin-kyu [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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