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Top court upholds news site operator's jail term for security law breach

All Headlines 14:07 May 21, 2013

SEOUL, May 21 (Yonhap) -- The top court has finalized a one-and-a-half year prison term for the head of an online news site for breaching the nation's draconian security law by exchanging emails with a North Korean spy and running pro-Pyongyang reports on the site, court officials said Tuesday.

The 45-year-old defendant, only identified by his surname Lee, was earlier convicted of making illegal contacts with a North Korean agent from 2007-2008, and also of posting dozens of news articles lauding North Korea's juche (self-reliance) ideology and military-first politics on Jajuminbo.net since 2005, they said.

"Lee made a total of 66 email contacts with the North Korean agent surnamed Kang and posted 51 pieces on Jajuminbo intended to abet the enemy (North Korea)," the Supreme Court said in a ruling. "The lower court's conviction is justifiable."

South Korea's National Security Law, which defines North Korea as an "anti-state entity," strictly bans its people from contacting North Korean agents and from organizing or engaging in pro-Pyongyang activities that attempt to spread or promote the communist country's political ideas.

The top court also upheld the lower court's ruling that cleared Lee of the charge that he and Kang, the spy reportedly working for Pyongyang's espionage division, met multiple times in China between 2007 and 2008, reiterating the lack of proof.

The court also confirmed a one-and-a-half year suspension of Lee's site license.

A local court sentenced him to two years in prison and suspended his license for two years, but an appellate court reduced both punishments by six months.

In 2002, Lee received a suspended jail term for breaking the security law in a separate case.

South and North Korea remain technically in a state of war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.


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