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Parties at odds over NIS' alleged election meddling

2017/08/04 17:31

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SEOUL, Aug. 4 (Yonhap) -- Rival parties on Friday showed mixed reactions over the results of the spy agency's internal probe about its alleged meddling in the 2012 presidential election amid growing public frustration over its past misdeeds.

A National Intelligence Service (NIS) task force revealed Thursday that from 2009-2012 it operated some 30 teams, many involving civilians, to shape public opinion favorable to the then conservative Lee Myung-bak administration.

The task force was launched in June as part of the incumbent liberal government's efforts to remove the "accumulated evils" of past governments. Reforming the NIS, long criticized for its political interference, is one of President Moon Jae-in's key election pledges.

The ruling Democratic Party called the task force's finding "appalling," with some party members stressing the need to have the former president face legal responsibility.

"Though it is just the tip of the iceberg, it is very shocking," Kim Hyun, the party spokeswoman, told reporters.

"Those involved in the case must come forward and tell the truth," she added, urging the former president and Won Sei-hoon, who led the agency from 2009-2013, to explain their positions.

Won has been standing trial on charges of instructing his subordinates to post political comments online to tilt the 2012 presidential election in favor of then ruling party contender Park Geun-hye. In the vote, Moon, then the main opposition candidate, lost by a margin of just 3.6 percentage points.

The center-left People's Party described the finding as "unpardonable."

   "It is clearly the NIS' unlawful political intervention," Kim Yoo-jung, the party spokeswoman, said in a written statement. "(Those responsible) should pay the price for unpardonable illicit acts."

  

This photo, taken on July 30, 2017, shows Kim Yoo-jung, the spokeswoman of the minor opposition People's Party, speaking during a press conference at the National Assembly in Seoul. (Yonhap) This photo, taken on July 30, 2017, shows Kim Yoo-jung, the spokeswoman of the minor opposition People's Party, speaking during a press conference at the National Assembly in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Conservative parties largely made guarded responses, apparently seeking to fend off potential fallout from the case.

"The NIS itself is undercutting its own credibility," said Khang Hyo-shang, the spokesman of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP). "We cannot help but believe that there is some sort of political motive behind the announcement of the finding."

  

This photo, taken on July 21, 2017, shows Khang Hyo-shang, the spokesman of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, speaking during a press conference at the National Assembly in Seoul. (Yonhap) This photo, taken on July 21, 2017, shows Khang Hyo-shang, the spokesman of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, speaking during a press conference at the National Assembly in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Kim Gwang-lim, the acting LKP policy chief, accused the NIS of using the media to attack conservatives, urging it to focus on more urgent national security issues.

The splinter Bareun Party warned that the finding could fuel misunderstandings about "political retribution."

   "Given that the NIS' finding was not corroborated with objective evidence, the facts must be unveiled through a prosecutorial probe and court trials," Jeon Ji-myeong, the party spokesman, told reporters.

sshluck@yna.co.kr

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