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Suspected operator of controversial Digital Prison repatriated from Vietnam

All News 11:05 October 06, 2020

SEOUL, Oct. 6 (Yonhap) -- An alleged operator of the controversial Digital Prison internet site was repatriated to South Korea on Tuesday, after being captured in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, last month.

The man, in his 30s, is suspected of violating privacy law by releasing personal information of alleged pedophiles, child abusers and murderers on the website that claimed to socially punish alleged perpetrators of horrendous crimes.

Escorted by police, the suspect did not respond to questions by reporters and was hurriedly taken to a police vehicle outside the terminal at Incheon International Airport.

An alleged operator of the controversial Digital Prison internet site arrives at Incheon International Airport on Oct. 6, 2020. (Yonhap)

The website was created earlier this year to protest against what the public sees as an unfair criminal justice system, but it carries a perennial risk of punishing falsely accused people.

The site has come under intense scrutiny after a 20-year-old university student, whose private details were made public on the site, was found dead in an apparent suicide last month. In another case, a psychiatrist in Seoul was proved innocent by police after being wrongly accused in June of trying to buy sexual exploitation content online.

The police started an investigation into the website in May for sharing illegal content and were trying to track down its operators. They requested international cooperation to arrest the suspect on intelligence that the man was in Vietnam. An Interpol red notice had been issued for the man.

An illustration of Digital Prison created by Chang Hyun-kyung (Yonhap)

Since the controversy, the site's service has been on and off. When it resumed service on Sept. 11, after shutting down for several days, it said on the website, "We promise to release private information (of alleged criminals) only when there is damning evidence," clearly noting mounting concerns over potentially false accusations.

As of Tuesday, access to the website has become forbidden by the government. Last month, Han Sang-hyuk, chairman of the Korea Communications Commission, a state media regulation agency, warned of stern measures against illegal sharing of personal information during a parliamentary meeting.

"What they do is (criminal) defamation," he said of releasing private details to punish alleged criminals.


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