Union target of prosecution raid

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Union target of prosecution raid

The prosecution yesterday began efforts to secure evidence against a civil servants’ union following accusations that it had intervened in last year’s presidential election in violation of government workers’ duty to maintain political neutrality.

The Seoul Southern District Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday that its team raided an IT company that manages the Internet server of the Korean Government Employees Union. Through search and seizure, the investigators attempted to confiscate the records of people who accessed the home page of the union and the postings linked to the presidential election.

The investigation was prompted by a petition filed Oct. 29 by Young’s Liberty Union, a conservative civic group.

The organization claimed that the Korean Government Employees Union meddled in the presidential election by stating its support for Representative Moon Jae-in, the Democratic Party candidate, and urged its members to vote for him.

They also said the postings were made on the union home page’s message board on Dec. 7 and Dec. 17, 2012. The presidential election took place on Dec. 19, 2012.

Prosecutors launched a formal investigation on Monday.

The ruling Saenuri Party claimed throughout this month that the government workers’ union made systemic attempts to influence the election.

Representative Choi Kyung-hwan, floor leader of the party, said Monday that the leadership of the Korean Government Employees Union had a deal with Moon before the election.

Choi alleged that Moon and the union formed a policy alliance and engaged in an active campaign through social networking services, calling it a blatant violation against civil servants’ duty to maintain political neutrality.

The union denied the accusations Wednesday at a press conference.

Kim Jung-nam, the union’s leader, said the investigation was the government and ruling party’s attempt to divert public attention from the existing scandal that the National Intelligence Service initiated an illegal online campaign to support Park Geun-hye, the Saenuri Party’s presidential candidate.

However, another union official, Yun Seok-mun, said the group had attempted to make policy alliances with all presidential candidates, but a deal with the Saenuri Party and Park did not materialize.

The union also said that the postings Young’s Liberty Union and the Saenuri Party charged as illegal campaigning for Moon were not actually made by its members, thus it was not the organization’s official stance.

The Democratic Party said yesterday that the prosecution has lost its political neutrality. “Without probable cause, the prosecution rushed to conduct the raid,” said Park Yong-jin, DP spokesman. “And their intention is clear. In order to dilute the National Intelligence Service scandal, the president and the Blue House laid the groundwork and the ministers and Saenuri Party raised their voices, and the prosecutors started the probe.”

Established in 2002, the Korean Government Employees Union is one of the largest civil servant unions in Korea.

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

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