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(LEAD) People's Party denies senior members' involvement in fake tip-off about Moon's son

All Headlines 11:58 July 03, 2017

(ATTN: CHANGES photo; ADDS more info in paras 4-6)

SEOUL, July 3 (Yonhap) -- The People's Party on Monday denied its senior members' involvement in the fabrication of election-season allegations against President Moon Jae-in's son as the minor opposition party is struggling to head off its biggest crisis that has eroded public support.

Wrapping up a weeklong probe, the party's fact-finding team announced its tentative conclusion that Lee You-mi, a rank-and-file member, acted alone in doctoring an anonymous tip-off that Moon's son, Joon-yong, landed a job at a public agency in late 2006 thanks to his father's influence.

Lee, who was arrested Thursday, has confessed to giving the fake information to Lee Jun-seo, then a senior party official, who disclosed it to the media in the runup to the May 9 election.

Rep. Kim Kwan-young, who led the in-house probe, said his team found no evidence to show that Ahn Cheol-soo, the party's former presidential candidate, was implicated in the case.

"We have not discovered any evidence that shows Ahn was involved or aware of the case," he told reporters.

Rep. Kim Kwan-young, the head of the People's Party's fact-finding team into a fake allegation against President Moon Jae-in, speaks during a party meeting at the National Assembly on July 3, 2017. (Yonhap)

Kim also dismissed the speculation that Lee Jun-seo directly or indirectly ordered the suspect to fabricate the tip-off.

Formed last Tuesday, the fact-finding team questioned 13 senior party officials, including Ahn, former party leader Park Jie-won and other campaign officials, including Rep. Lee Yong-ju.

The case has threatened the very existence of the party, which was launched early last year under the leitmotif of "new, clean" politics in a complete break from "outdated, corruptive" partisan practices.

Park Joo-sun, the interim party leader, apologized last Monday, saying he would consider disbanding the party if its core members are found to have cooked up the allegations.

Affected by the case, its approval rating has hit rock bottom. The Realmeter survey, released Monday, put its rating at 5.1 percent, down 1.2 percentage points -- the lowest since its foundation.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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