NLL file deleted after MB electedAbout a month after the 2007 presidential election, former President Roh Moo-hyun ordered his aides to discard the original transcript of his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il at a Pyongyang summit, according to an exclusive report by the JoongAng Ilbo.
And more records were deleted by the president around the time he left office, the report said.
From Roh’s electronic records system, prosecutors have recovered a document showing he ordered aides to delete the original transcript of the summit meeting after the 2007 presidential election, which was won by a large margin by Lee Myung-bak of the Grand National Party, which was the opposition during Roh’s term.
“The original transcript recovered by the prosecution was deleted some time in January 2008, about a month after Lee won the election,” said a government official speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Yoon Sang-hyun, floor leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, said in a phone interview with the JoongAng Ilbo that the late president would not have deleted the transcript if the candidate from the Democratic United Party had won the election.
“I understand that Roh did not want his remarks during the summit meeting to be accessed by the Lee administration, so he told his aides to delete it,” said the lawmaker.
Prosecutors also discovered that 100 other documents related to domestic politics during the Roh administration were deleted for reasons not yet revealed.
The prosecutors have not described the content of those documents, although they are trying to recover them.
The original transcript of the summit meeting was also recovered successfully.
Political wrangling between the ruling Saenuri and the Democratic Party, the successor to Roh’s party, over the management of presidential documents is expected to intensify as prosecutors look into when and why files were deleted.
Under the Act on the Management of Presidential Archives Clause 11, all presidential records must be transferred to the National Archives before the end of a president’s term.
If records are destroyed without legal justification, the person who ordered it could be sentenced to up to 10 years in jail or ordered to pay up to 30 million won ($28,020) in a fine.
The prosecutors reported last week the summit meeting transcript, which was alleged by the ruling party to have Roh disavowing the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border on the Yellow Sea, was not transferred to the National Archives but was maintained in a duplicate electronic archives system Roh brought to Bongha Village, South Gyeongsang, his retirement site.
Pro-Roh figures are claiming that the fact the transcript was recovered from the electronic management system in Bongha proves the former president did not delete the record.
Some ruling party members, however, are calling for the release of an audio recording of the summit meeting kept at the National Intelligence Service to see if anything was altered in the final edition of the transcript.
Representative Yoon dismissed a claim by the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation that the original transcript was deleted because it was a rough draft as “absurd.”
BY LEE KA-YOUNG, KANG JIN-KYU [firstname.lastname@example.org]