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Military to open full-fledged probe into cyber command's smear campaign

All Headlines 09:57 October 20, 2013

SEOUL, Oct. 20 (Yonhap) -- The defense ministry is likely to start a full-fledged investigation into its special cyber unit as several members admitted to posting negative comments online against the opposition presidential candidate ahead of the 2012 December election, a source said Sunday.

The Cyber Warfare Command officials have been under an internal investigation into an online smear campaign against the main opposition Democratic Party's candidate, Moon Jae-in, before the presidential poll.

During a parliamentary audit on Thursday, four command staffers admitted to posting comments on their personal blogs, without elaborating whether they acted on orders from the ministry or how many were involved.

"With the admission, it is now inevitable for the military to launch a probe into the case," said the source on condition of anonymity. "Military prosecutors or police may carry out the investigation, or they may probe the case jointly."

The envisioned investigation could center on whether the cyber command agents posted political comments in an organized way, the source said.

It may also focus on whether they posted the comments at the behest of their superiors or they were linked to the state spy agency accused of having carried out a similar online smear campaign against the opposition candidate, he said

While opposition lawmakers believe that the uploaded political blog posts are part of the military's online smear campaign, the ministry has claimed that the cyber command members personally expressed their opinions in cyberspace.

After the scandal came to the forefront, some members of the cyber division reportedly erased their Twitter posts.

The defense ministry set up the 400-member special unit in 2010 as part of efforts to expand the military's cyber warfare capability to counter hacking threats from North Korea.

The cyber command's scandal comes at a time when the ruling and opposition parties have been locked in a heated political showdown for months over allegations the National Intelligence Service intervened in the presidential election.

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