SEOUL, Feb. 26 (Yonhap) -- Thirty people will stand trial for their roles in a massive illegal political maneuver led by the state spy agency under the former Lee Myung-bak government, prosecutors said Monday.
They include former senior officials of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), including then-chief Won Sei-hoon, an ex-official of the presidential office and more than a dozen civilians affiliated with conservative advocacy groups, according to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office.
They are accused of involvement in a political scheme orchestrated by the NIS aimed at influencing public opinion via online channels in favor of the conservative government.
The NIS recruited scores of its retirees to take charge in each cyberteam consisting of civilians with ties to rightist groups. The civilians went on a spree of posting Internet comments to sway the public in support of the Lee government and policies, while maligning its political opponents and high-profile figures considered left-leaning.
Prosecutors have also concluded that 6.3 billion won (US$5.8 million) of taxpayer money was spent in the cyberoperation. They charged three ex-NIS officials with loss of state funds.
Of the thirty, six have been arrested, including Won, who has already been standing trial over the alleged political interference, while the rest will face trial without detention, the prosecution added.
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