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Key spy agent to be charged in 2012 election scandal

A National Intelligence Service agent central to allegations that the spy agency attempted to manipulate public opinion in the run up to the 2012 presidential election is to be indicted, prosecutors said Sunday. 

National Intelligence Service’s agent, surnamed Kim
National Intelligence Service’s agent, surnamed Kim

The NIS agent is alleged to have been involved in an online smear campaign against then-liberal presidential candidate Moon Jae-in, who lost by a narrow margin to conservative Park Geun-hye in the election.

The expected indictment for the female agent, identified by the surname Kim, came five years after Kim was spotted by then-main opposition Democratic United Party lawmakers in a studio apartment in Seoul during what the opposition party called a cyber campaign to smear Park’s rival and current President Moon on Dec. 11, 2012, just a week before the election.

Kim had denied any wrongdoing in the alleged election meddling scandal until recently, but has reportedly since told prosecutors that she provided false testimony under NIS orders.

Kim suspected of posting hundreds of messages online to sway voters in favor of Park during the presidential campaign, and promote the policies of the outgoing conservative President Lee Myung-bak.

Her indictment is also part of a massive investigation launched by Moon’s administration that began in May after Park was removed from office in March over a corruption scandal.

Three of four former NIS chiefs, along with other former and current officials, are currently on trial charged with hiring internet-savvy civilians to help with the covert online operation.

Park is on trial for multiple charges, including bribery and abuse of power.

The ousted leader was recently given another charge by prosecutors that she received bribes from the NIS while in office. Park has been detained since she was arrested on March 31 and indicted on April 17 last year.

Taking office last year, Moon pledged to reform the NIS and end its domestic political involvement.

Bak Se-hwan (