Court upholds travel ban for Kato

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Court upholds travel ban for Kato

A local court on Friday turned down an injunction filed by a Japanese journalist against a travel ban imposed on him by the Korean government, which effectively forbids him from leaving the country for months.

The Seoul Administrative Court said Friday that it turned down an injunction filed by Tatsuya Kato, the former Seoul bureau chief of Japan’s Sankei Shimbun, to stop the travel ban the Ministry of Justice imposed on him.

Kato is currently standing trial on charges of defaming President Park Geun-hye.

“Because he is a foreign national standing a criminal trial, there is no reason to see the travel ban as unlawful,” the court said. “If he leaves Korea for Japan, there is no guarantee that he will appear in his trial.”

The court also said that Kato has lived in Korea for more than four years and appears to have ties within his community.

“It is hard to see that he will suffer enormous damage by staying in Korea for a longer period,” the court said.

It also rejected Kato’s complaint that he cannot see his family due to the travel ban.

“Because his family is not banned from entering Korea,” the court said, “they can visit and meet him.”

In the injunction hearing that took place earlier in the morning, Kato said he has no intention of attempting to get out of standing trial.

Kato filed the injunction on Feb. 6, arguing that the Korean government’s travel ban is unreasonable as he has already been investigated and was indicted in a previous court without a pre-trial detention. The Japanese reporter was charged last October with defaming the president in a report he wrote for his newspaper, which was published on Aug. 3.

The report said that Park was missing for seven hours on April 16, the day the Sewol ferry sank, and alleged that she was secretly meeting a recently divorced former aide.

The trial is still ongoing, and Kato has denied all charges against him.

The Ministry of Justice extended Kato’s travel ban by three months until April 15.

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




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