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Top court acquits 2 businessmen of espionage charges

All News 10:09 April 08, 2016

SEOUL, April 8 (Yonhap) -- The nation's top court has acquitted two men of charges they attempted to hand over military intelligence to the North Korean spy agency, court records showed Friday.

The two men, aged 59 and 78 and both involved in business with North Korea, were indicted in June 2012 on charges of trying to hand over military secrets on equipment capable of disrupting global positioning system (GPS) signals. They were also accused of trying to provide details of other high-tech military equipment.

The arrest at that time coincided with North Korea's suspected jamming of GPS signals, a satellite-based navigation system widely used by planes, ships and the military as well as in ordinary cars. North Korea denied any involvement in the attacks.

The Supreme Court said a North Korean agent, who prosecutors argued gave orders to the two suspects, did not exist. It said the information the two men accumulated was accessible by anyone online.

Considering that most of the charges were only backed by testimony provided by the 59-year-old co-defendent, identified only by his surname Kim, the court concluded that he made false claims to entrap the 78-year-old, surnamed Lee, after they had troubles in their joint business.

Lee was sentenced to life in prison on a separate espionage charge in 1972, though he was released on parole in 1990.

Kim, an ethnic Korean holding New Zealand nationality, received a 10-month jail term, suspended for two years, for violating a string of laws related to the country's passport act.


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