Ms. Park defeated her main opposition rival, Moon Jae-in, by roughly a million votes in the election and took office in February. But in a snowballing scandal, prosecutors have since said that agents of the National Intelligence Service posted thousands of anonymous Internet messages during the presidential campaign supporting Ms. Park and her governing Saenuri Party or berating government critics, including opposition presidential candidates, as supporters of North Korea.
Last week, opposition lawmakers alleged in the National Assembly that the military’s secretive Cyberwarfare Command had carried out a similar online campaign, separately or in coordination with the spy agency, to help sway public opinion in favor of Ms. Park before the Dec. 19 election.
On Tuesday, the Defense Ministry confirmed that four cyberwarfare officials had posted political messages. It quoted them as saying they had acted on their own. Still, “the ministry will investigate whether there was command-level involvement,” the ministry’s spokesman, Kim Min-seok, said, explaining the raid on the command headquarters.
The Cyberwarfare Command was created in 2010 to guard South Korea against North Korean hacking threats.
The political opposition first raised the possibility of illegal electioneering during the presidential campaign last year. Three days before the voting, the police announced that they had found no evidence to support the accusations.
But in June, prosecutors indicted Won Sei-hoon, the intelligence agency’s former director, on charges of supervising an online smear campaign against Ms. Park’s political opponents. They also indicted Kim Yang-pan, the former chief of the Seoul Metropolitan Police, saying he had whitewashed an investigation into the matter by junior officers, a charge he denies.
Mr. Won and the spy agency insisted that the online messages were posted as part of normal psychological warfare operations against North Korea and did not amount to meddling in an election. Ms. Park has denied using the spy agency for her campaign.
Since Ms. Park’s inauguration, South Korean politics has been paralyzed by scandals, including the one surrounding the spy agency. Rival political rallies have rocked downtown Seoul in recent weeks. Student activists demanded reform within the intelligence agency. But older, conservative Koreans have encouraged the agency, known by its abbreviation N.I.S., to “wipe out North Korea followers” from the National Assembly and cyberspace.
Last month, the spy agency arrested a far-left nationalist opposition lawmaker on charges of plotting an armed rebellion against the South Korean government in the event of war with North Korea. “To many in Korea and abroad, it appears that the N.I.S. is using a crude distraction in order to avoid scrutiny of its own alleged illegal activities, and to justify its existing powers,” more than 200 scholars on Korea living abroad said in a joint statement.
The scandal has kept growing. Last month, a Seoul court ordered the prosecution of two more senior intelligence officials for involvement in the alleged online campaign.
On Monday, during a National Assembly hearing, Yoon Seok-ryeol, a senior prosecutor who had led the investigation of the scandal until recently, said his team had been under “external pressure.”
Mr. Yoon was removed from the investigation last week after his team detained three intelligence agents and searched their homes. He said his team had collected more evidence of the spy agency’s online campaign: 55,700 messages, posted or reposted by intelligence agents through Twitter, that praised Ms. Park or disparaged her opposition rivals before the election. One of them called Mr. Moon, the main opposition candidate, a “servant” of North Korea, and another called Ahn Cheol-soo, an independent who supported Mr. Moon, “a woman in men’s clothes.”
Cho Yong-gon, head of the Seoul District Prosecutor’s Office, who supervised Mr. Yoon, denied putting political pressure on Mr. Yoon’s team. He said Mr. Yoon had been removed from the investigation because he did not discuss the agents’ detentions in advance with his superiors, as regulations require.
Source: NY Times.
A month ago I posted this article about a polititian being arrested. It looks like that was just the beginning. :/