Mar. 7. The center concluded that documents submitted to prosecutors by the NIS had been falsified. (News1)
By Kim Jeong-pil, staff reporter
The full picture of the National Intelligence Service’s falsifications in the Yoo Woo-sung espionage case came into sharp focus on Mar. 7 with the release of a note from an NIS informant who attempted suicide after being questioned by prosecutors.
In the note, the man, a 61-year-old surnamed Kim, indicated that he was to receive NIS payment for his activities and the falsification of Chinese documents.
If true, this would mean that the NIS crafted testimony and falsified foreign government documents - at state expense - to deceive the court and give false evidence for espionage charges against Yoo, 34, an ethnically Chinese North Korean refugee who worked as an official for Seoul Metropolitan Government.
The note, left by Kim before his suicide attempt, includes mention of “two months salary (six million won [US$5,650]) and 10 million won [US$9,400] for false document production,” indicating that the falsification of “official Chinese documents” was ordered by the NIS.
The suggestion that money for “false document production” changed hands between Kim and the NIS is especially shocking because it would mean that state money was used to falsify the documents. Kim’s note also indicates that the NIS paid a monthly “salary” of 3 million won (US$2,830) to keep an informant. If the charges prove true, they would completely contradict the NIS, which has responded to every new piece of evidence and testimony supporting the document falsification allegations by claiming the issuance process was “normal.”
In its explanation of Kim’s suicide note, the NIS said that they already paid the costs of acquiring these documents and the 10 million won in question is another payment for different documents. If true, the NIS effectively admits that they paid most for the fabrication of documents.
The facts about the falsification that have emerged so far paint a picture of the NIS repeatedly falsifying new documents to support previous ones, out of fears that the original “official Chinese documents” submitted to the court would be proven fakes. In short, it lied to cover up previous lies, with tragic results.
The document that Kim told prosecutors was falsified was a response, purportedly from China’s Sanhe immigration and customs office, disputing the content of an explanation provided by Yoo’s lawyers. Previously, the NIS and prosecutors had submitted two other official Chinese documents to the court for Yoo’s espionage trial: a border crossing record and a confirmation of its issuance. The Chinese government has said that all three were falsified.
The evidence now suggests that the NIS falsified the confirmation to testify to the authenticity of the initial border crossing record, then falsified another response from the Sanhe authorities to dispute materials supplied by Yoo’s lawyers to counter the charges.
Adding to the NIS and prosecutors’ woes are allegations that they arbitrarily invented testimony in an affidavit by an ethnic Korean in China named Lim, 49, which was submitted to the court as evidence of espionage. If true, this would mean they falsified not only documents but also testimony.
Questions are now being raised over the political reasons for the NIS to go to these lengths to pin espionage charges on Yoo. The falsification of evidence in Yoo’s case could be aimed at tightening the noose on Yoo in order to go after the real target - Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon - by playing up the “Seoul city official” aspect of the case. Another explanation is that the NIS was trying to boost its image with a high-profile espionage case after finding itself in the crosshairs over interference in the 2012 presidential election by its psychological warfare division.
This evidence manufacturing case can be traced to the lack of any controls between the prosecutors’ public security division and the NIS, which have maintained a close partnership on anti-Communism cases. The problem is the longstanding practice of prosecutors blindly trusting the evidence supplied from NIS intelligence activities in the spirit of “partnership,” and using it in their investigations.
“The prosecutors need to draw a clear line now with the NIS on anti-Communism cases,” said a source with the prosecutors on condition of anonymity. “If they submit the evidence collected by the NIS in court without first screening out the stuff that’s been falsified, the prosecutors are ones who bear final responsibility because they have the authority to bring charges.”
“There’s no reason for the prosecutors to partner with the NIS like this if it means shouldering these kinds of risks,” the source added. “They need to either get rid of the NIS’s investigative authority on anti-Communism cases, or at least limit it when it comes to South Korean citizens.”
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