Cheong Wa Dae masterminded surveillance: former official
By Kim Rahn
A key suspect of the government’s alleged surveillance of citizens has claimed that Cheong Wa Dae orchestrated the illegal monitoring and destruction of related evidence.
On Monday, prosecutors quoted Jin Kyung-rak, former staff member of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), as stating that the presidential office’s civil affairs department masterminded the scheme. Jin has been under arrest for his alleged involvement in the case.
The testimony from Jin, who is believed to know everything about the illegal spying, is expected to help the prosecution zero in on higher-ranking officials who led the monitoring of citizens critical of the government.
Jin said the civil affairs department ordered then-presidential secretary for labor Lee Young-ho to destroy evidence in June 2010 when the scandal first emerged, and that Lee then ordered his junior, Choi Jong-seok, to do this, according to the prosecution.
Both Lee and Choi were arrested as well for their involvement in the surveillance scandal.
In an appeal to the disciplinary committee last February, Jin had made a similar claim. “But at that time he changed his mind and kept quiet, presumably following persuasion by higher-profile officials who paid his lawyer’s fee. He has also used his right of silence since the arrest last month. But now he is beginning to cooperate with the investigation,” an investigator at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said.
“Jin is saying he heard about the civil affairs department’s involvement from Choi. But Choi claims he made up the story,” he said.
Meanwhile, prosecutors plan to summon Seo Yu-yeol, president of KT’s home business group, for an allegation that he had a cell phone registered under a false name at Lee’s request. The false-name phone was used by several key figures involved in the evidence destruction allegation, including another former PMO staffer Chang Jin-soo.
Chang, who revealed the surveillance allegation, said he used the phone when destroying the evidence in July 2010 during the initial probe.
In a press release by KT, Seo admitted to registering the phone under the name of a child of one of the company’s outlet chiefs, as Lee said he needed it for his work. But he added he didn’t know what Lee was using it for.
It is also alleged the PMO monitored a former KT&G president, a former Korea Specialty Constructors Association chief, a chairman of a cable network CMB, a former Gyeonggi Urban Innovation Corp. head and several municipality chiefs between 2008 and 2009.
Prosecutors found this in a USB memory device seized from a PMO staffer’s home. They also found documents on which “reported to Park” was written — Park here referred to former Knowledge Economy Vice Minister Park Young-june who was at the PMO when the surveillance activities were taking place.
Park was arrested earlier this month on an allegation of influence-peddling in an urban development project in southern Seoul.