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(LEAD) CIO launches probe into spy chief over alleged meddling in presidential election politics

All News 11:53 October 06, 2021

(ATTN: UPDATES with details in last 4 paras, throughout; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, Oct. 6 (Yonhap) -- The state anti-corruption investigation office said Wednesday it has opened a probe into National Intelligence Service Director Park Jie-won over allegations of political meddling ahead of the March presidential race.

The Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials (CIO) announced that it booked Park on Tuesday on charges of allegedly violating the National Intelligence Service Act and the Public Official Election Act.

Park has been accused by Yoon Seok-youl, former prosecutor general and a leading presidential contender of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP), and his campaign team of colluding with two others in tipping off online news outlet Newsverse for a supposed series of hit pieces on Yoon.

This file photo shows National Intelligence Service Director Park Jie-won. (Yonhap)

The outlet has reported a series of stories alleging that a prosecutor previously under Yoon secretly asked the PPP, just before the general elections in April 2020, to file a complaint against three pro-government figures for their alleged involvement in damning news reports about Yoon's wife.

In a related but separate case, a team of prosecutors and investigators from the CIO raided the office of PPP Rep. Jeong Jeom-sig on Wednesday.

Jeong, a former prosecutor, is suspected of having handled the draft of the complaint while serving as chief of the PPP's legal advisory team at the time.

PPP floor leader Rep. Kim Gi-hyeon and other leaders of the party rushed to Jeong's office to protest the raid.

"I'm appalled that the CIO is taking such ridiculous actions," Kim told reporters, insisting there is no truth to the alleged complaint against pro-government figures.

He said prosecutors should instead be searching the offices and locations connected to a separate massive scandal surrounding a land development project conducted during ruling Democratic Party presidential contender Lee Jae-myung's time as mayor of Seongnam.

This Oct. 6, 2021, photo, provided by the National Assembly's photo press corps, shows CIO investigators searching the Seoul office of Rep. Jeong Jeom-sig of the People Power Party. (Yonhap)

hague@yna.co.kr
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