NIS officials sentenced in forgery caseOfficials from the country’s top spy agency and two of their accomplices were found guilty yesterday and sentenced by the court for submitting falsified evidence in an appeals case against a Korean-Chinese man suspected of spying for North Korea.
The Seoul Central District Court yesterday sentenced a 48-year-old National Intelligence Service agent surnamed Kim to two and a half years in prison for ordering his subordinates to falsify Chinese immigration documents and officials papers for Yu Wu-seong.
The court also handed down a one-year jail term to a high-ranking 54-year-old spy agency official surnamed Lee for conspiring with Kim. Despite the sentence, Lee was not arrested in court and the judiciary has guaranteed him the right to defend himself given that his guilt is disputable and he does not pose a flight risk.
Two other NIS officials were also given prison terms: a mid-ranking agent surnamed Kwon, 50, who tried to attempt suicide during the investigation; and Lee In-cheol, who worked at the Consulate General in Shenyang, China, and knowingly handed over the falsified documents to the NIS. Both were given one-year jail terms with a two-year stay of execution.
The court also sentenced two Korean-Chinese accomplices, who were prompted by the NIS to fabricate three documents related to Yu’s immigration records, to 14 months and eight months in prison, respectively.
The judiciary convicted the defendants of all accusations presented but acquitted Kwon on some charges based on the grounds that there was not sufficient evidence to prove his involvement. “They hampered the country’s judicial function and the public’s confidence in it by breaking their duty to investigate and follow proper procedures,” the judging panel said in a statement. “But we also took account that they have devoted themselves to the country’s security and served the people for more than 20 years.”
Yu was indicted on espionage charges in 2013. He was born in North Korea and holds Chinese citizenship but came to South Korea in 2004 under the guise of being a North Korean defector. While working for the Seoul municipal government, he was suspected of leaking information on some 200 North Korean defectors living in Seoul to the regime. He was acquitted of those charges in his initial trial, and during the appeals case, NIS officials attempted to secure evidence that would prove that Yu had visited North Korea for espionage purposes.
The spy agency submitted fabricated evidence to the court, though it was later confirmed by the Chinese Embassy in Seoul that the documents presented as evidence were falsified.
Yu was acquitted in the appellate court. The prosecution has appealed the case to the Supreme Court.
BY SHIM SEO-HYUN AND KIM BONG-MOON [firstname.lastname@example.org]