Prosecutors seek arrest warrant for ex-defense chief over alleged political meddling

SEOUL, Prosecutors said Friday they filed for a court warrant to arrest former Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin on suspicion that he tried to undermine the ministry's internal probe into the military cyber command ahead of the 2012 presidential election.

Kim, who headed the ministry from 2010-2014, is suspected of pressuring his ministry's officials into toning down and covering up an inquiry into a massive political maneuver carried out by the military's cyber command. The operations were aimed at influencing public opinion online in favor of the then-ruling party presidential candidate Park Geun-hye.

It is the second time prosecutors are seeking an arrest on Kim. He was released from an 11-day detention in November last year after a court granted the motion to reconsider the legality of the arrest warrant that had been issued on him over the same suspicion.

The court accepted his argument that there is low risk of him fleeing or destroying evidence.

Following its 2013-14 probe into the alleged political meddling by the cyberwarfare wing, the Criminal Investigation Command under the defense ministry concluded that no top officials were involved in the scheme that violated rules about maintaining political neutrality.

But in a recently reopened probe, a former military investigator made statements indicating that Kim issued direct orders regarding the internal probe into the command's suspected political meddling.

Three officials have been arrested for allegedly following his orders to block the investigation.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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