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Military set to unveil outcome of probe into cyber command

All Headlines 10:11 December 15, 2013

SEOUL, Dec. 15 (Yonhap) -- The defense ministry is expected to announce the interim results this week of its investigation into the cyber warfare command's alleged smear campaign against the opposition candidate during last year's presidential poll, a source said Sunday.

The ministry has been looking into the cyber command the past two months after some members of its psychological warfare unit were caught posting political messages against the opposition camp ahead of the December election.

Some cyber warfare officials allegedly posted or spread writings on social networking sites such as Twitter that were critical of then presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party (DP) in violation of their obligation to stay politically neutral.

"The ministry's investigative team plans to unveil the outcome of its probe around the middle of this week," said the source on condition of anonymity.

The team has reportedly investigated all officials in charge of psychological warfare over the alleged smear campaign against Moon, who lost to Park Geun-hye of the ruling Saenuri Party.

According to the source, military investigators are reviewing whether arrest warrants will be sought for the director of the psychological warfare unit and some key officials for violating military standing orders stipulating political neutrality.

But the investigation team has concluded that the defense minister and the commander of the cyber command have not been involved since they stressed the military's political neutrality several times ahead of the election, he said.

The director of the psychological warfare unit is accused of ordering his subordinates to post messages against the liberal camp ahead of last year's presidential vote.

The source said the investigation team will look further into the psychological warfare command after the announcement of the interim results.

Tasked with conducting psychological warfare operations against North Korea's propaganda, the unit plays a key role in the 100-member command.

Opposition lawmakers demand that a special independent counsel should be appointed to be in charge of the probe into the cyber command, claiming its online smear campaign was part of a larger scheme that also involves the state spy agency.

The DP alleges that the warfare unit director may have acted on orders from higher up to conduct the online smear campaign, demanding Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin step down and be investigated over his alleged role in the scandal.

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