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(2nd LD) Gyeonggi governor's wife found to be owner of controversial Twitter account: police

National 14:03 November 17, 2018

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 2, 7-9)

SEOUL, Nov. 17 (Yonhap) -- The wife of the governor of Gyeonggi Province will face a prosecution probe after police found that she violated election laws and committed defamation on Twitter, investigators said Saturday, a case that could make a serious dent in the governor's political career.

Kim Hye-gyeong, the wife of Gyeonggi Province governor Lee Jae-myung, is facing allegations that she was the owner of a controversial Twitter account (@08_hkkim), with which she spread false information and criticized her husband's political rivals over the past several years.

Wrapping up the months-long investigation, the Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency concluded that Kim had owned and used the Twitter account since 2013 to post thousands of political messages supportive of her husband while denouncing his rivals.

In April, she tweeted that Rep. Jeon Hae-cheol of the ruling Democratic Party had joined hands with the main opposition Liberty Korea Party over the course of the Gyeonggi governor election, which turned out to be false, according to the police.

In December 2016, when Lee was competing with current President Moon Jae-in in the party primary for the party's presidential nomination, she claimed in a Twitter message that Moon's son Joon-yong landed a job at a public agency in 2006 on the back of his father's influence. Moon was a senior presidential secretary at that time.

Lawmaker Jeon first sought a state probe to determine the owner of the Twitter account, but he withdrew the request last month. Police, however, continued to look into the case, as judge-turned-lawyer Lee Jung-ryul and some 3,000 citizens again asked for investigations.

"We will send the case to the prosecution around Monday recommending her indictment," an officer said, refusing to elaborate.

Kim and Governor Lee have sternly denied the allegations. When appearing before the police station to face question earlier this month, Kim simply said, "Sorry."

The name of the account is "For the sake of Justice," but Internet users who have raised suspicions over the identity of the owner given it the nickname "Hyegyeonggung Ms. Kim," which became a general term for the case.

This image shows Lee Jae-myung (R) and his wife Kim Hye-gyeong. (Yonhap)

After the results of the police probe became known, the governor expressed "despair," bashing the police for "playing politics."

"(Police) called for the indictment based only on circumstances and suspicion," Lee said in a Facebook message. "Upon the formation of a special investigation team, police already had their targets in mind."

Stressing that the truth will be revealed one day, Lee said he will "never be swayed" and will "continue to focus on his duty as governor."

The opposition parties urged the governor and his wife to stop contradictory behavior and apologize to the people, while the ruling party took a cautious stance by saying that it remains to be seen until the court makes a final ruling.


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