A Seoul court Monday acquitted a controversial online pundit accused of causing financial losses to the country by spreading misleading information.
Park Dae-sung, 30, better known by his Internet alias "Minerva," was arrested in early January and was indicted on charges of spreading online rumors that the government ordered local banks not to buy U.S. dollars as part of efforts to stabilize the local currency.
The prosecution claims the posting in December led to dollar hoarding, forcing the government to hurriedly inject $2 billion to stabilize the currency market. The prosecution had sought an 18-month prison term.
"When considering all the circumstances, it is hard to conclude that Park was aware the information was misleading when he wrote the postings," Judge Yoo Young-hyun of the Seoul Central District Court said in the ruling.
The judge also said that even if Park had realized that the information was false, it cannot be concluded that he had the intent to hurt public interest, considering the circumstances at the time or the special characteristics of the foreign exchange market.
Minerva's sensational postings gained a massive following after he accurately predicted the collapse of U.S. lending giant Lehman Brothers last year. He followed up with a series of pieces criticizing the government's economic policies, which spread quickly through the Internet in one of the world's most wired nations.