Roh ordered record deleted

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Roh ordered record deleted

An aide to the late President Roh Moo-hyun told prosecutors in February that Roh ordered him to delete an electronic record of the 2007 inter-Korean summit from the Blue House data system and he relayed the message to the appropriate staffers at the Blue House, the JoongAng Ilbo has learned.

Cho Myoung-gyon, who served as Roh’s security policy secretary at the time of the summit, was questioned about the issue at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office in February during a probe into whether the late president disavowed the Northern Limit Line, the de facto border in the Yellow Sea, at a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang in October 2007.

If Roh’s order was carried out by the Blue House staffers, it could explain why a recent search by lawmakers for a transcript of the meeting in the National Archives failed.

The JoongAng Ilbo learned yesterday of Cho’s account from sources in politics and the judicial community.

Cho accompanied Roh to the closed-door meeting with Kim Jong-il along with National Intelligence Service director Kim Man-bok.

Sources say that Cho told prosecutors in February that Roh ordered him at the end of 2007 to delete the electronic file of the summit transcript from the Blue House’s administrative management system, which is called e-jiwon.

At the end of Roh’s term, the presidential records were supposed to be given to the National Archives for storage.

Earlier this month, lawmakers from the ruling and opposition parties jointly searched the archives and concluded that the summit meeting transcript was not there. Following the discovery, the Saenuri Party asked the prosecution to investigate the missing transcript. The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office is currently investigating the case.

According to the sources, Cho and other Blue House officials told the prosecution in February that Roh had ordered a copy of the transcript to be kept at the National Intelligence Service for his successor to use as a reference.

Presidential records at the National Archives are not supposed to be accessed for a certain period of time.

Kim, who headed the NIS at the time of the summit, said earlier that Cho recorded the Roh-Kim dialogue and the NIS provided the technology to transcribe it. The Blue House kept the original transcript, while the NIS kept a copy.

After suspicions grew that Cho deleted the transcript from the system on his own, sources said Cho didn’t have the authority to do so. That was why Cho had to relay Roh’s order to aides with the authority.

Prosecution sources also said yesterday that the current probe could end with no indictment because Roh is no longer alive. He committed suicide in 2009. Blue House aides won’t be criminally liable if they acted upon Roh’s orders.

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