Ex-lead investigator in NIS probe says case was hampered by 'outside pressure'
Prosecutor Yoon Seok-yeol, who headed a special probe into allegations that the National Intelligence Service attempted to influence last year's presidential election, was removed from the task force investigating the case last Friday.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office says that Yoon was expelled for overseeing raids on the homes of four NIS officials and detaining three of them without permission from his superiors.
However, Yoon said at a parliamentary audit Monday that he did report his plan to his superior, Cho Young-gon, the chief of the Seoul office.
Specifically, Yoon said he visited Cho's house on the night of October 15th to discuss adding a new charge to the indictment of former spy agency chief Won Sei-hoon, a highly sensitive decision.
Won was indicted in June and is currently on trial for allegations that he ordered NIS agents to post negative comments on the internet against Democratic Party candidate Moon Jae-in in the run-up to the presidential election last year.
Yoon says his team found evidence that the spy agency also used Twitter for a smear campaign against Moon and independent candidate Ahn Cheol-soo.
He said the evidence had been discovered through raids and questioning the NIS officials.
"My superiors are supposed to help the investigation move forward but they kept nitpicking at smaller details. I know that is necessary, but if the people who are investigating the case feel it wasn't fair and crossed the line then we can only regard it as external political pressure."
However, Yoon's superior Cho argued Yoon never officially asked for his authorization.
"Reporting is a crucial part of the decision-making process, and I felt that Yoon's way of reporting this wasn't proper. I just told him I would consider his plan."
The prosecution is currently investigating whether Yoon failed to comply with procedure.
It will make a final decision by October 30th on whether to accept the results of Yoon's investigation and add it to the indictment of the former spy agency director.
Kim Yeon-ji, Arirang News.
We're getting reports now that Gil Tae-ki , the acting prosecutor general, has ordered an investigation into the apparent internal conflict between the team overseeing the case and its superiors.
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