Prosecution set to seek arrest warrant for ex-spy chief
SEOUL, June 3 (Yonhap) -- Prosecutors said Monday they will decide sometime this week whether to seek an arrest warrant against a former intelligence chief accused of meddling in last year's presidential election.
Won Sei-hoon, who headed the National Intelligence Service (NIS) for about four years until early this year, is suspected of ordering agents to post a slew of politically sensitive comments on the Internet in order to sway public opinion in favor of the ruling party candidate prior to the Dec. 19 election.
"A decision has to be made within this week as the statute of limitations for the violation of the Public Official Election Act expires June 19," said the Seoul Central Prosecutors' Office probing the case.
Won is accused of violating the act and another law governing the status of NIS officials, which strictly prohibits them from intervening in domestic politics.
Won, who headed the NIS under former President Lee Myung-bak and was barred from leaving the country pending investigation, has twice undergone prosecution questioning in connection with the case.
The former intelligence chief was questioned over whether he had given orders to the agents or been briefed about the agents' alleged activities.
During the first round of questioning, Won reportedly denied the charges against him, claiming that there was nothing illegal about the agency's operations.
Many former NIS chiefs have ended their careers in disgrace. Kim Hyung-wook, who headed the agency in the 1970s, fled to the United States after he was estranged from former President Park Chung-hee, the father of President Park Geun-hye. A subsequent spy chief, Kim Jae-kyu, assassinated the elder Park and was later executed.
More recently, several intelligence chiefs in the 1980s and 1990s were convicted of corruption, maintaining slush funds and other crimes after they left office.
Won Sei-hoon (Yonhap File Photo)