Late mayor's phone unlocked with ex-secretary's helpPolice investigating the suicide of Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said they unlocked his iPhone Wednesday night, just two days after launching what was expected to be a grueling months-long process.
Officers who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Kim Jae-ryon, a lawyer representing a former secretary of Park who accused the mayor of sexually harassing her for more than four years — an allegation that is believed to have led to Park's suicide — disclosed the mayor’s password to police.
How she knew it was not described.
Kim made no public comment on the matter Thursday and refused to give a response when she was called by a JoongAng Ilbo reporter.
The device was an iPhone XS, released in late 2018, and one of three mobile phones Park used before committing suicide on July 9, just a day after the former secretary filed a complaint against him with the Seoul police for alleged sexual harassment.
Legal and tech experts had expected the police to take several months to unlock the iPhone, based on past experience.
Yet even with the phone unlocked, the police can not freely rummage through the mayor’s data in search of hints about his suicide and the harassment accusations, officers said, because each step will have to be verified by lawyers of Park’s family and also of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. The city government technically owns the phone.
Police have received a warrant to look into data related to the mayor’s death only, not the sexual harassment allegations. For them to search for evidence corroborating the former secretary’s claims, they need another court warrant that specifically allows that.
Seoul police who are separately investigating the secretary’s accusation that colleagues in the Seoul Metropolitan Government turned a blind eye to her struggles had earlier asked a local court for a warrant to search the iPhone for evidence, but were denied Wednesday. Their warrant request to raid the Seoul Metropolitan Government in Jung District, central Seoul, was simultaneously rejected by the same Seoul Central District Court, who said the police failed to explain the need for both operations.
In response, police said they would investigate further and review whether to take a second chance at asking for warrants.
While officers have been investigating the mayor’s case from multiple angles, the Chosun Ilbo, a local daily, reported Thursday that two suspects have been formally accused of leaking details of the secretary’s police complaint to other people, which went viral on social media platforms on July 10.
The newspaper, without naming any sources, claimed the leaked details were based on the victim’s first testimony she gave to her lawyer, which was later compiled into a report. The victim’s mother, who apparently made a copy of the report, gave it to her church pastor, asking him to “pray” for her daughter.
The pastor reportedly handed the document to another worker at the church, after which the content spread online. The victim reported both suspects to the police on July 13, the newspaper said.
Whether Park knew that his former secretary filed a complaint against him on July 8 is still unconfirmed.
Kim said Wednesday in her second press conference that before filing the complaint with the police, she contacted the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office on July 7 to ask for a meeting to discuss the case, telling prosecutors it was specifically about the mayor. The meeting was arranged for the next day, but it suddenly got canceled, Kim said.
Prosecutors Wednesday denied they leaked anything about the case to any other organization.
BY LEE SUNG-EUN, MOON HEE-CHUL [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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