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Opposition party member arrested over fake tip-off scandal

All Headlines 01:40 July 12, 2017

SEOUL, July 12 (Yonhap) -- A former senior member of the minor opposition People's Party was arrested Wednesday over his suspected role in fabricating evidence for a negative campaign against President Moon Jae-in during the May presidential election.

The Seoul Central District Court approved the prosecution's request for a warrant to detain Lee Jun-seo, upholding its claim that he may destroy evidence and is a flight risk.

Lee, then a supreme council member of the party, is accused of violating the election law by providing the party with unverified information about an illicit hiring of Moon Joon-yong, the president's son, by a public agency in 2006.

In the lead up to the May 9 election, the People's Party and its candidate Ahn Cheol-soo raised an allegation that the junior Moon landed a full-time job at the Korea Employment Information Service based on his father's influence as a presidential secretary.

The party used it as part of its smear campaign against Moon, then front-runner of the Democratic Party. Moon won the election.

Lee, 40, has denied any wrongdoing.

The prosecution has arrested Lee You-mi, a former campaigner for Ahn, after she confessed to doctoring the tip-off. She said she had her brother pose as a friend of the junior Moon and make the revelation in an audio file which she later relayed to Lee Jun-seo via a mobile messenger. Lee You-mi has insisted she didn't act alone.

The court rejected an arrest warrant for Lee You-mi's brother suspected of involvement in the scheme.

The prosecution has centered the probe on Lee, believing that he is the mastermind behind the crime, practically encouraging Lee You-mi to concoct the tip-off and deliberately overlooking the verification process.

Although the prosecution has yet to substantiate that he instructed Lee You-mi to create the false story about Moon, they found evidence that he coaxed her into bringing in "decisive proof" in return for promising her a position in the party.

He also allegedly told the party that the tip-off was "100 percent true" and didn't take any action when Lee You-mi told him it was a fabrication.

The scandal has driven the People's Party into the worst crisis since its launch early last year under the banner of "new and clear politics." The party conducted its own probe soon after the scandal broke and concluded that its top officials were not involved in the scheme.

Lee Jun-seo, a former senior member of the minor opposition People's Party suspected of taking part in a fake tip-off scandal, is surrounded by reporters asking questions as he enters the courthouse for a hearing on his arrest warrant in Seoul on July 11, 2017. (Yonhap)

elly@yna.co.kr
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