NIS steps up questioning of alleged plottersThe National Intelligence Service, going after a pro-North Korea group suspected of plotting to overthrow the government, will begin calling in group members for questioning today and says it will hold those it believes responsible for a “treasonous scheme.”
The agency said yesterday it will summon Kim Geun-rae, the deputy head of the Unified Progressive Party’s Gyeonggi chapter, early today, the first of a series of examinations of members of a UPP’s pro-Pyongyang faction called the Revolution Organization.
Lee Young-choon, head of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions’ Goyang-Paju branch, and Kim Hong-yeol, head of the UPP’s Gyeonggi chapter, will be called in by the NIS on Thursday and Friday.
The spy agency said it will question seven UPP members whose homes and offices were raided last week, as well as four party members who are now banned from leaving the county, to build its case against members of the RO who allegedly discussed ways to assist North Korea in the event of a war.
The intelligence service is especially going after evidence that could prove the RO received orders from the North to advance its interests in the South. Finding such evidence that could link the RO with Pyongyang is imperative for the NIS to accuse the RO of being an anti-state organization.
“In order to make the RO recognized as an anti-state body, the authorities must obtain substantial testimony and evidence to prove to a judge that the RO is indeed a treasonous group,” said a prosecutor who asked that his name not be used.
The NIS claims that members of the RO held a meeting on May 12 at a religious education center in Seoul’s Mapo District, where they allegedly discussed ways to instigate violence against the government to topple it in the event of an attack by Pyongyang.
The dialogue transcript released by the prosecutors seemed to show determination to aid the Communist nation by destroying infrastructure.
Three members of the organization who are already in custody under pre-trial detention have been questioned for about eight hours a day by NIS agents.
The detained officials are Hong Soon-seok, the vice chairman of the UPP’s Gyeonggi chapter; Han Dong-geun, a former chairman of UPP’s Suwon city chapter; and Lee Sang-ho, an adviser to the Gyeonggi Progressive Alliance.
Reports say the three had refused to answer any the questions; Lee Sang-ho has reportedly been on a hunger strike since his arrest last Wednesday.
The intelligence service will hand over the cases involving the three men to the prosecutors on Friday.
Lee Seok-ki, a UPP assemblyman and the alleged mastermind of the RO, is awaiting the outcome of a National Assembly vote on whether his parliamentary immunity should be withdrawn.
BY LEE DONG-HYUN, KANG JIN-KYU [firstname.lastname@example.org]