By Kim Se-jeong
The tablet computer containing files of major presidential speeches and other important national security and diplomatic documents, belonged to Choi Soon-sil, prosecutors concluded, Friday.
Choi initially denied ownership. She said she didn't even know how to use such a device. She claimed she was falsely accused with the intent to damage her in investigations of her influence-peddling scandal.
But, according to the prosecution, "We confirmed it belongs to Choi. She kept it in her office and didn't use it for a long time."
The prosecution said Choi continued to claim that she wasn't the owner. "That's not mine. I don't know who owns that," the prosecution quoted her as saying.
JTBC, a cable TV network, obtained the device late last month and alleged Choi owned it.
JTBC found major presidential speeches in the computer which were viewed before the President made the speeches. It also found photos of Choi ― including selfies taken on the device as confirmed by the prosecution ― which led to allegations the confidant had corrected the speeches.
It is unclear if Choi can be punished for having early access to the files. There's no law governing that, as she has never held public office, but the officials who gave her the files could be punished.
President Park, who vowed to comply with the prosecution investigation in a nationally televised apology on Friday, can be punished for poor handling of presidential records. President Park already admitted in part that her confidant read her speech files in advance.
Ko Young-tae, Choi's close associate and business partner, was once a suspected owner. Yonhap quoted another associate of Choi as saying Ko was the owner, which Ko strongly denied during questioning earlier this week. But the prosecution found an official at Cheong Wa Dae used the tablet until March 2014. The official is suspected of giving Choi the device.
JTBC didn't disclose how they recover it, giving rooms speculations. Initially, a JTBC journalist found the device while digging through trash outside Choi's Seoul residence after she abruptly left Korea. Others speculated the tablet was found outside Choi's home in Germany, and a Korean resident recovered it there before mailing it to JTBC.