Police said Monday they are referring Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung's wife to the prosecution, recommending an indictment for slandering election rivals of the influential liberal politician.
Police last week identified the owner of the Twitter ID "Hyekyunggung Ms. Kim," who left numerous defamatory comments before and during elections in recent years, as Lee's wife, Kim Hye-kyung.
Police suspect she wrote comments in December 2016 against President Moon Jae-in, then Lee's potential rival in the Democratic Party's primary for the 2017 presidential election. She accused Moon of using his influence to help his son land a job at a public institution years ago.
Police also claimed she wrote in April that one of Lee's rivals in the DP primary for the Gyeonggi Province gubernatorial election collaborated with the conservative opposition Liberty Korea Party.
She faces charges of defamation and spreading of false information.
Police pointed out that the time matches with when the Twitter ID and other SNS accounts held by Kim and Lee posted the same pictures, and when Kim changed her phones. They also said they have enough compelling evidence for prosecutors to charge Kim, including evidence they have not released to media.
Kim has been questioned by police and strongly denied any wrongdoing. Lee, former Seongnam mayor, has denounced the police for making politically motivated, baseless accusations while disregarding any evidence in Kim's favor.
The allegations could deal a serious blow to the political career of the lawyer-turned-politician. Lee has been considered a potential presidential candidate of the ruling DP.
Lee slammed the investigation as a politically motivated attack on him during a press conference Monday.
"The Twitter ID does not belong to my wife. There's plenty of evidence to prove that and yet the police concluded it is hers based on a few vague things that they collected," he told reporters.
In response to calls for him to resign, he said, "As long as the purpose of this low political offensive is for me to quit my job, I will respond to that by focusing more than ever on my duty."
Yet it is not the only scandal Lee is facing. He's also been involved in allegations of an extramarital affair raised by an actress and that he and his wife forced Lee's elder brother into a mental institution.
The DP said that it has no plan to discuss possible disciplinary actions against Lee until the judiciary hands down its decision.
"There is nothing that Lee has acknowledged so far as to the scandal. We will set our stance if necessary after watching whether prosecutors will indict him," Hong Ik-pyo, a party spokesman, said.
The DP apparently remains skittish about the political fallout of scandal on the party at a time when the public support rating for the party is on the decline. (Yonhap)