Ex-NSO head grilled on times of Sewol reports

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Ex-NSO head grilled on times of Sewol reports

The prosecution questioned a former presidential security adviser Monday over allegations that he may have fabricated the time of reports on the tragic sinking of the Sewol ferry to then-President Park Geun-hye to lessen her responsibility.

Kim Jang-soo, who served as chief of the National Security Office (NSO) under Park, appeared at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office in the morning.

The move comes months after the Moon Jae-in administration found initial NSO reports on the 2014 sinking of the ferry that showed the accident was first reported to the former president at a much later time than the NSO’s final and publicized report had suggested.

Officials from the incumbent administration have noted Kim may have ordered the NSO to illegally change the time of the report, partly covering its own failure to promptly report the accident to the then chief executive but also allowing Park to claim that she had done everything she could.

Meanwhile, prosecutors said Monday they will question former Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin this week as part of their inquiry into suspicions that the military tried to cover up an internal probe into the cyberwarfare unit’s alleged political meddling.

Kim, who served as defense chief from 2010-2014, was ordered to face interrogation as a suspect on Tuesday.

He is being probed over allegations that military authorities sought to reduce their in-house investigation into purported military schemes to post online comments to sway public opinion in favor of the then-ruling conservative bloc.

Prosecutors raided his home on Feb. 23.

Following its 2013-14 probe into the alleged political meddling by the cyberwarfare wing, the Criminal Investigation Command under the defense ministry concluded that no top officials were involved in the scheme in violation of rules about maintaining political neutrality.

But in a recently reopened probe, a former military investigator has made statements indicating that Kim issued direct orders regarding the internal probe into the command’s suspected political meddling.

Kim has denied any wrongdoing.

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