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Presidential secretary quizzed over alleged illegal exit ban

All News 23:35 April 24, 2021

SEOUL, April 24 (Yonhap) -- Prosecutors said Saturday they have questioned a presidential secretary over an alleged illegal exit ban imposed on former Vice Justice Minister Kim Hak-ui in the first questioning of a presidential official in the case.

Lee Kwang-cheol, secretary for civil affairs for President Moon Jae-in, was questioned for about 10 hours and 30 minutes earlier in the day.

The secretary is suspected to have told Cha Gyu-geun, commissioner of the Korea Immigration Service, on March 22, 2019, that prosecutor Lee Kyu-won would contact him.

The secretary also told prosecutor Lee Kyu-won to stop Kim's departure, saying he already talked with the Justice Ministry over the case.

Lee, the prosecutor, stopped Kim's departure with a false document while Cha granted the request for the exit ban on March 23, 2019, though he knew the illegal nature of it.

The secretary is said to have denied the accusations.

In March 2019, Kim was stopped at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, from leaving the country as prosecutors sought to reinvestigate allegations that he received sexual favors from a local constructor more than a decade ago.

Earlier this month, prosecutors charged two key suspects in the case -- Cha and Lee Kyu-won, the prosecutor who requested the exit ban -- with abuse of power, obstruction of justice, document falsification and other crimes.

Lee Sung-yoon, chief of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office, is suspected of exercising undue influence in 2019 to stop an investigation into the alleged illegal exit ban on Kim.

Lee, head of the Supreme Prosecutors Office's anti-corruption team at that time, allegedly meddled in and pressed the investigators to drop the case.

Last Saturday, Lee was questioned at the Suwon office for nine hours over the case.


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