South Korean Prosecutors Are Seeking To Arrest Former Deputy Spy Chief

Jina Kim, Nov. 29, 2017, 10:11 a.m.

Prosecutors on Wednesday sought an arrest warrant for a former deputy head of the nation's intelligence agency who was allegedly involved in the agency's illegal surveillance of public servants and civilians under the former Park Geun-hye administration.

Choi Yun-su, former second deputy director of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), was specifically charged with violating the law governing the NIS, prosecutors said.

Choi is suspected of abusing his power, directing his subordinate Choo Myeong-ho to secretly investigate then special presidential inspector Lee Seok-su and ranking officials of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and then report the outcome of the surveillance activity to Woo Byung-woo, who worked as Park's senior secretary for civil affairs, according to prosecutors.

Choi, who was in charge of the agency's domestic intelligence gathering from February 2016 to June 2017, was Choo's direct supervisor.

Prosecutors believe Woo instructed the NIS to conduct illegal surveillance on Lee when he began looking into Woo's alleged irregularities and Choi took a role in the process.

The former NIS deputy is also suspected of being involved in the NIS' writing and delivery of a blacklist of cultural and art figures considered critical of the Park government to the culture ministry at the instruction from Woo.

Choi reportedly acknowledged during questioning by prosecutors on Sunday that he reported the outcome of the NIS' surveillance on Lee and Park Min-kwon, a former vice culture minister. He also admitted that he told Choo to inform Woo of the outcome but allegedly said he considered it part of his routine work of gathering information on public servants.

Earlier on Wednesday, prosecutors summoned Woo for questioning on his alleged involvement in the illegal surveillance scandal. Prosecutors have said they will consider issuing an arrest warrant for Woo based on the results.

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