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(2nd LD) Spy agency, police raid labor group over alleged anti-communist law violations

All News 20:00 January 18, 2023

(ATTN: ADDS more comments in last 3 paras, new photo)

SEOUL, Jan. 18 (Yonhap) -- The nation's spy agency and police raided a militant labor umbrella organization Wednesday on suspicion of anti-communist law violations by some of its members.

Investigators from the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and the National Police Agency (NPA) began their raid on the headquarters of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) in central Seoul, beginning around noon, after hours of confrontations with KCTU officials.

Officials of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions protest a raid by police and the National Intelligence Service in front of its headquarters in central Seoul on Jan. 18, 2023. (Yonhap)

Officials of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions protest a raid by police and the National Intelligence Service in front of its headquarters in central Seoul on Jan. 18, 2023. (Yonhap)

The two agencies have reportedly obtained a search and seizure warrant for the KCTU from the court in connection with alleged violations of the National Security Law by some KCTU members.

The investigators entered the KCTU head office after confrontations with KCTU officials who resisted the raid attempt, demanding the search and seizure be conducted in the presence of its lawyers. A scuffle reportedly occurred during the process.

Around the same time, the NIS and NPA also raided the headquarters of the KCTU-affiliated Korean Health and Medical Workers' Union (KHMU) in the southwestern Seoul ward of Yeongdeungpo.

In the southwestern province of South Jeolla, NIS investigators also raided the home of a former KCTU official in Damyang, 250 kilometers south of Seoul.

An NIS official told Yonhap News Agency by phone: "The case has been internally under investigation for several years and related evidence has been secured. A search and seizure warrant has been obtained from the court due to the need for a forced investigation."

KCTU spokesperson Han Sang-jin told reporters that the NIS and police were conducting raids on one KCTU official and three others -- one official from the KHMU, one official from the KCTU-affiliated Korean Metal Workers' Union and a Jeju Island activist.

Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions stage a protest against a raid by police and the National Intelligence Service in front of its headquarters in central Seoul on Jan. 18, 2023. (Yonhap)

Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions stage a protest against a raid by police and the National Intelligence Service in front of its headquarters in central Seoul on Jan. 18, 2023. (Yonhap)

He said the investigators used excessive force while conducting the raid, which is very unusual compared to previous seizures.

"They came to execute a search warrant but they attacked us as if they they were carrying out an arrest warrant," the spokesperson said during a press briefing when investigators raided the office. "There must be some reason for it."

The KCTU said it will have a press conference on Thursday at its headquarters and subsequently hold a joint media event with other civic groups in front of the presidential office in central Seoul.

ycm@yna.co.kr
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