Counsel Request for Search and Seizure of the President's Office

Alice Lee, Feb. 10, 2017, 9:24 a.m.

The independent counsel investigating the corruption scandal involving impeached President Park Geun-hye said Friday it will file a suit to stop presidential aides from blocking the search and seizure of the presidential office.

“We are set to file for a cancellation and suspension of the presidential office’s disapproval of the search and seizure with the Seoul Administrative Court,” Lee Kyu-chul, the counsel team’s spokesperson, said at a press briefing. 

The counsel team last week attempted in vain to enter Park’s official complex with a court-issued search warrant to obtain evidence over Park’s alleged bribery, creation of a blacklist and her confidante Choi Soon-sil’s meddling in state affairs.

But Cheong Wa Dae refused the team’s entry, citing a law that requires approval from the person in charge of the location when searching top security sites with confidential information. 

“The reason for the action is to be judged by the court as to whether the presidential chief of staff barring the execution of the search and seizure by the special counsel was legitimate,” Lee said. 

Lee said he expects a hearing to be held next week. The court-issued search warrant is valid until Feb. 28.  

The counsel team also said it plans to charge the chief of the presidential staff and chief security officer with obstruction of public duty if they continue to block the search even after the court rules against them. 

“But if our request is rejected, there is no way to raid the presidential under the current law, so then we think it is impossible to execute the search warrant,” Lee said. 

The move is widely seen as stepping up pressure on the presidential office amid the continued deadlock between President Park and the counsel team over its plan to question Park face-to-face.

Park unilaterally called off the planned face-to-face interrogation on Thursday, accusing the counsel team of leaking information about the timing and the location of the questioning to the local media. 

The counsel team denied leaking the information.

The probe team also said it is currently not adjusting the schedule with the president for the face-to-face questioning.

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