Raids find NIS link in love-child controversy

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Raids find NIS link in love-child controversy

Prosecutors have determined that the personal details of a 54-year-old woman and her 11-year-old son - alleged paramour and love child of former Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook - were illegally accessed by a district office in Seoul and leaked to the media.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said Tuesday it raided the Seocho District Office and residence of an officer from its administrative assistance team on Nov. 20 on allegations that the officer ordered his subordinates to look up the woman’s family registration documents without due procedure. The officer was identified by the surname Cho.

After analyzing material confiscated in the raid, the prosecution discovered that Cho personally accessed records related to the woman and her 11-year-old son by his computer in June, three months before the conservative Chosun Ilbo reported on the extramarital scandal that led to Chae’s resignation in disgrace.

The prosecutors suspect Cho accessed the information at the request of the National Intelligence Service. Cho was a former aide of Won Sei-hoon, former chief of the spy agency.

Led by Chae, the prosecution was aggressively investigating the NIS for its alleged smear campaign in last year’s presidential election in favor of the candidacy of Park Geun-hye of the Saenuri Party. That has led many to suspect that the Blue House and the NIS were involved in the love-child leak to oust Chae.

Under the law, a person must seek a grant from the National Court Administration under the Supreme Court to access family registration documents with an explanation that its access is for the public good. That requirement also applies to government officials.

Cho, 53, is known to be close to Won, who appointed him as his administrative secretary when he was the public administration and security minister in 2008 under the Lee Myung-bak administration. Cho followed Won to the NIS and moved to the Seocho District Office after Won’s stint as NIS chief ended in January this year.

Won is jailed and on trial for violating the election law in the NIS campaign interference case, and for accepting bribes in an unrelated case.

Cho reportedly acknowledged that he had made inquiries into personal histories but not of the mother and son, according to the JoongAng Ilbo.

“Cho must not have carried out the illegal inquiry and leak on his own,” a government official was quoted as saying by the JoongAng Ilbo.

“What is important in regard to the raids is that the official is a confidant of former chief Won Sei-hoon, and information illegally leaked by him was used by the ruling party and the government to oust Chae and thwart the investigation into the NIS,” said Park Yong-jin, spokesman of the major opposition Democratic Party, yesterday.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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