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(LEAD) Investigator believed to have been involved in election-meddling row found dead

All Headlines 19:41 December 01, 2019

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES with more info throughout)

SEOUL, Dec. 1 (Yonhap) -- An investigator who worked at the presidential office last year was found dead Sunday, police said, amid a probe by prosecutors into Cheong Wa Dae officials' suspected election interference.

The official, who was dispatched to the civil affairs office from the prosecution, was found dead at an office in southern Seoul, according to police.

The investigator reportedly left a note before his death. Police said they are investigating to determine the exact cause of the death.

The official is believed to have been involved in a controversy related to allegations that Cheong Wa Dae sought to intervene in the June 13 local elections in 2018.

Baek Won-woo, former presidential secretary for civil affairs, is suspected of having referred to police tip-offs about alleged irregularities by aides of Kim Gi-hyeon, then mayor of Ulsan, ahead of the local elections.

The move sparked speculation that the provision of the information could have been intended to press police to investigate Kim, a mayoral candidate of the main opposition party, so as to affect the outcome of the elections.

Song Cheol-ho, a ruling party candidate known as having close ties with President Moon Jae-in, won the mayoral election.

Prosecutors are looking into allegations that officials at the presidential civil affairs office traveled to Ulsan to monitor the progress of the police probe. The investigator, who worked for Baek, is believed to have been one of such officials.


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