Spy agency admits agents posted political comments
The chief of the South Korea's National Intelligence Service Nam Jae-joon has confirmed that over 2-thousand negative Twitter messages targeting the opposition presidential candidates Moon Jae-in and Ahn Cheol-soo were posted by 22 NIS agents before the December election.
He also said they are currently looking into some 26-thousand Tweets to determine whether they were posted by NIS agents as well.
Prosecutors said last month that former NIS head Won Sei-hoon allegedly ordered the agency's psychological warfare team to wage a smear campaign against the opposition candidates on Twitter, posting some 55-thousand comments before the 2012 presidential vote.
The revelation reinvigorated the main opposition Democratic Party's offensive against the NIS, as it was previously believed the smear campaign was only limited to Web portal sites.
During a parliamentary audit into the spy agency at its headquarters in Seoul Monday, current NIS chief Nam told the intelligence committee that he will send seven of the 22 agents in question to the prosecution next week for a probe into their role in the campaign.
Nam, however, denied allegations the NIS as a whole launched a systematic campaign to influence the outcome of the election.
He said the case reflects a deviation by some members of the North Korea psychological warfare unit, which he says didn't have specific guidelines about its operations at the time.
Nam also voiced his strong objection to the Democratic Party's demand the NIS get rid of its department in charge of thwarting Pyongyang's espionage activities in the South, and transfer its operations to the prosecution and police.
A ruling party lawmaker quoted Nam as saying that transferring these operations would not be feasible because there are many infiltrations by North Korea into South Korea through a third country, which Nam said the prosecution and police would have difficulty handling on their own.
Nam also said the NIS will submit its own proposal for internal reforms after the audit ends this week.
Kim Yeon-ji, Arirang News.
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