Charges against former Defense Minister seen as increasingly likely

Posted on : 2017-10-04 15:19 KST Modified on : 2017-10-04 15:19 KST
Document shows Kim Kwan-jin signed off on Cyber Command political interference ahead of 2012 election
Former Minister of Defense Kim Kwan-jin (by Kim Chang-kwang
Former Minister of Defense Kim Kwan-jin (by Kim Chang-kwang

An investigation of and judicial action against former Minister of Defense Kim Kwan-jin are appearing increasingly inevitable amid mounting documented evidence and investigation findings pointing to online posting operations by the Military Cyber Command during the Lee Myung-bak administration.

Kim has consistently maintained that he was “unaware” of the posting activities, which were apparently aimed at influencing public opinion ahead of the 2012 presidential election.

Interim findings announced on Oct. 1 from a Ministry of Defense task force reinvestigating the command’s activities showed Kim signing off on confidential documents regarding the online posting operation. Kim recently received a travel ban from prosecutors in connection with his alleged involvement.

In its interim investigation findings, the ministry said Kim was found to have signed off on a document titled “2012 Cyber Psychological Warfare Operation Guidelines,” which was made public on Sept. 18 by Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Cheol-hee.

“These operational guidelines were also included in the records in connection with the Ministry of Defense High Court for Armed Forces trial on the posting case,” a military official said.

“We have additionally obtained confidential Cyber Command Psychological Warfare Division documents signed by Minister Kim and are currently verifying their details,” the official added.

As part of its investigation, the ministry is verifying multiple accounts from the previous investigation about Kim receiving reports on the results of the Cyber Command’s posting operations. It is also questioning the witnesses who made the allegations.

“In examining whether the Cyber Command reported to Minister Kim on the psychological warfare response findings, we found documents believed to be Unit 530 situation logs and response reports included in the past investigation record,” a ministry source said.

“We saw a number of accounts in the past investigation that [activities] were reported to the Minister,” the source added.

The findings from the reinvestigation call into question the results announced in Aug. 2014 from the ministry’s previous investigation into the Cyber Command posting operation. At the time, the ministry decided not to press charges against Kim on the grounds that he had not received Cyber Command reports – a move that led many to accuse it of covering up or downplaying Kim’s role.

The ministry’s reinvestigation findings show that the ministry investigation headquarters in charge of investigating the case in the past obtained eyewitness evidence of Kim’s involvement, but disregarded it and moved not to take action against him. They are also consistent with the account of former Unit 530 Psychological Warfare Division General Planning Department chief Kim Ki-hyun, who claimed the Cyber Command’s posting operations “were reported on to Minister Kim.”

By Park Byong-su, senior staff writer and Kim Ji-eun, staff reporter

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