Special prosecutor hints at expanding probe to allegations of spying on judiciary

February 10, 2020

Among the allegations the presidential office
is denying… is that it ordered the National Intelligence Service to spy on high-level
judges,… including the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Now it seems the Independent Counsel and his
team, already with quite a lot on their plate, may end up investigating that accusation as
well. Hwang Hojun reports. If proved true, it would be a massive blow. In a regular briefing Friday morning, the
special prosecutor team said that, if necessary, it will investigate allegations that the presidential
office secretly kept tabs on the private lives of the Supreme Court’s chief justice and
other senior judges. The bombshell accusation was made during Thursday’s
parliamentary hearing by former newspaper CEO Cho Han-gyu, who cited classified presidential
documents that his paper, the Segye Ilbo, obtained exclusively in 2014. Cho said he will provide the National Assembly
with the documents containing intelligence about the judges… but will keep the other
documents secret. An official at the presidential office denied
the allegations, saying the President has never spied on anyone and it’s something that
should never happen. The special prosecutor is authorized by parliament
specifically to investigate President Park, Choi Soon-sil, several of Choi’s family members
and associates, former Cheong Wa Dae secretaries and senior secretaries… along with a number
of companies and institutions. However, the law also stipulates that related
incidents discovered during the probe are also be subject to investigation… as long
as the connection is substantiated. If it turns out the presidential office was
in fact monitoring the judges, legal experts say that will likely cement the outcome of
the President’s pending impeachment. “It’s important to identify who in the Presidential
Office took the lead. If the President knew of such acts, let alone
ordered or condoned them, that would be reason enough for impeachment. It’s a critical violation of the constitution,
breaking down the separation of powers.” Not just unconstitutional — some are saying
the alleged spying could lead to charges of abuse of power. HWANG Hojun, Arirang News.

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