Buddhist groups urge thorough probe into spy agency's election meddling
SEOUL, Aug. 8 (Yonhap) -- A group of 13 Buddhist organizations called Thursday for a thorough parliamentary probe into the state intelligence agency's alleged intervention in the last presidential election and punishment of those found responsible.
The National Assembly began an investigation early last month to uncover the truth behind allegations that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) conducted an online smear campaign to sway public opinion in favor of the ruling Saenuri Party ahead of December's presidential election.
But there has been no major progress as rival political parties remain split over who should stand as witnesses and how to ensure their appearance at the hearings.
"In a democracy, a government with power commissioned by the people should always try to grasp what their people want," the Buddhist groups said in a news conference in Seoul after launching an ad hoc council on the issue.
"The NIS's illegal meddling in the election and its subsequent disclosure of a state document to bury the election intervention issue are all unlawful acts that could undermine democracy and state discipline," it stressed, referring to the spy agency's disclosure in June of excerpts of a 2007 inter-Korean summit transcript.
The Buddhist groups then demanded a full-scale reform of the NIS and police, and the sacking of the NIS chief Nam Jae-joon over his decision to disclose the summit transcript along with a thorough parliamentary probe into the NIS election scandal.
Critics have said the agency intended to divert the public attention from the election scandal through the disclosure of the transcript containing late South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun's controversial remarks on the disputed Yellow Sea border with North Korea.
The disclosure has thrown rival political parties into a fierce argument over whether Roh actually made remarks undermining the legitimacy of the sea border, called the Northern Limit Line (NLL), during his 2007 summit with then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.