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Presidential official summoned over suspicions of orchestrating rally

All Headlines 10:58 August 31, 2016

SEOUL, Aug. 31 (Yonhap) -- State prosecutors said Wednesday they have summoned a presidential official earlier this week to investigate allegations he ordered a local civic group to hold a rally in favor of the government.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office said it questioned Heo Hyun-joon on Tuesday over suspicions he ordered the right-wing Korea Parent Federation to hold a rally in January, supporting a landmark deal reached by Seoul and Tokyo in December.

In April, a local weekly newsmagazine said Heo sent a text message to the civic group, asking it to hold a rally related to the controversial agreement, citing the group chief.

After the scandal surfaced, the group chief denied the report, saying he just had talks with Heo and was not ordered to hold a rally.

The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae also denied the allegations.

Heo shortly filed a petition with the Seoul Western District Court, seeking a ban on the publication of the magazine, but the court rejected the call, citing the freedom of the press.

At the court hearing, Heo's legal representative said he was just carrying out his duty as an official in charge of communication with civic society, making clear he never ordered the group to hold a rally.

A number of civic groups have filed petitions with the prosecution, seeking investigation into the relation between Heo and the civic group.

The presidential official also took legal action against the news outlet, saying it circulated false reports.

Prosecutors said they are also looking into the allegations that the conservative civic group was unlawfully funded by the country's major lobby group, the Federation of Korean Industries.


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