Moon’s campaign manager arrested

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Moon’s campaign manager arrested

A former campaign manager of the main opposition Democratic Party’s presidential candidate Moon Jae-in was nabbed yesterday by the prosecution on charges of running an unauthorized cyber campaign during last year’s election.

The Democratic Party criticized the arrest, calling it a prosecution’s trick to divert the public attention from the latest scandal involving a former intelligence chief’s meddling in the Dec. 19 presidential election.

According to the Seoul Southern District Prosecutors Office, it arrested an aide to DP Representative In Jae-keun yesterday without a warrant.

The suspect, only identified by his surname Cha, was accused of operating an unregistered campaign office in Yeouido, western Seoul, separate from Moon’s official campaign offices, and promoting Moon through social network services.

During the presidential race, Cha served as head of the SNS team in Moon’s campaign. The prosecutors said they have made several requests to Cha to appear for questioning after the election authority in Seoul pressed charges against him.

“But he refused to cooperate,” a prosecution source said. “Because the statute of limitation for the Election Law violation case for the presidential election expires on Wednesday next week, we had no choice but to make the urgent arrest.”

Cha was taken into custody early yesterday morning, the source said.

Under the law governing the criminal litigation process, the law enforcement authority including the prosecution is granted the right to make an arrest without a warrant if there are enough grounds to believe the suspect had committed a crime punishable by the death penalty, lifetime imprisonment or more than three years in prison.

The prosecutor also needs to have strong suspicion that the suspect will destroy evidence and is a flight risk.

Following the arrest, the prosecution must apply for a warrant within 48 hours to hold the suspect for a longer period.

The Democratic Party fiercely criticized the arrest.

Park Yong-jin, spokesman of the largest opposition party, yesterday confirmed that Cha was forcibly taken into the prosecution’s custody for the Election Law violation charges.

Park, however, said the timing of the arrest was extremely suspicious, calling it an attempt by the prosecution to dilute the latest scandal involving the National Intelligence Service’s alleged intervention in the presidential election to aid the victory of President Park Geun-hye.

The prosecution decided earlier this week to indict Won Sei-hoon, who headed the National Intelligence Service during the presidential election, for Election Law violations as well as breach of the agency’s internal code of conduct, which requires political neutrality.

The prosecution had a special probe to find out if there were systemic efforts inside the nation’s main spy agency to influence domestic politics.

Several officials from the now-disbanded psychological operations bureau were accused of having conducted an online smear campaign against Moon in the run-up to the presidential election. DP spokesman Park also said the accusation involving Cha was made with political intentions from the beginning.

He said the Saenuri Party made the accusation shortly after the National Election Commission pressed charges against its social network service consultant for operating an unregistered campaign office to post favorable Internet messages for then-Saenuri candidate Park on the eve of the election.

BY SER MYO-JA [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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