Agent implicated in spy case probe

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Agent implicated in spy case probe

The prosecution requested yesterday that a National Intelligence Service agent be questioned on suspicion that he may have been involved in the fabrication of key evidence in a case to charge a man who professed to be a North Korean defector with spying for the regime.

During a questioning Thursday with an outsourced broker who provided falsified evidence to the agency, he told prosecutors that an NIS agent was also involved in fabricating three key documents used by the prosecution and submitted to the appeals court in the case against Yu Wu-seong, a Korean Chinese man who is suspected of giving information on about 200 defectors living in South Korea to Pyongyang.

Yu, technically a Chinese national, lied to the spy agency when he first came to South Korea and claimed he was a defector so he could settle in Seoul and gain defector status, which entitles him to government subsidies and residence.

According to the broker, the agent - a “black agent,” one who disguises his or her identity for espionage - worked in China to collect intelligence on North Korean affairs. The broker said he referred to the agent simply as “Boss Kim,” as the agent was only identified by his surname.

All three documents that the prosecution received from the NIS were fabricated, the prosecution found.

According to the broker, Agent Kim was involved in the process of fabricating all three key documents in the case against Yu: Yu’s entry and exit records between North Korea and China, and the two confirmation letters for those records that were issued in the name of the Helong police in China and the Sanhe County immigration office, respectively.

“Whether we would figure out the whole truth of this case or not depends on the testimony of Boss Kim,” a senior official in the prosecution said.

According to the prosecution, the broker stated on Thursday that, “Requested [by the NIS agent] in December 2013, I was only involved in the fabrication of documents from Sanhe immigration office, but Boss Kim was involved this case from the beginning. As far as I know, he was also involved in the process of fabricating the other documents.”

Agent Kim may have possibly hired another broker to forge the other documents, or asked for help from other NIS agents, the prosecution said.

If Kim’s involvement in fabricating the evidence turns out to be true, the investigation would need to focus on whether his superiors directed him to do so, the prosecution said. The focus of questioning for Kim would be on who the top authority is in the fabrication scandal, they added.

According to the broker, in early December, he said he was ordered by Kim to “make a document to refute the evidence provided by [Yu’s] attorneys.” So he fabricated the Sanhe immigration office’s confirmation letter, which was then handed over to another NIS agent working in the Korean Consulate General in Shenyang.

The other agent, Lee In-cheol, attached another document to the fabricated one, claiming that all the statements in the paper were true in the name of his official title as a consul.

The documents were presented afterward to the appeals court as evidence by the prosecution investigating Yu’s alleged espionage activities.

Meanwhile, the prosecution yesterday requested an arrest warrant for the 61-year-old broker over suspicions that he was involved in the fabrication. The broker, who attempted suicide on March 5, was detained by prosecutors at a local hospital in Seoul.

Whether he will be detained under the prosecution will be decided today at a local court.

The prosecution will also request an arrest warrant for Lee.

BY KIM HEE-JIN, JUNG HYO-SIK [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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