A former South Korean intelligence chief accused of directing agents who posted online criticisms of liberal candidates during the 2012 presidential election campaign was convicted Thursday of violating a law that banned the spy agency from involvement in domestic politics.
Won Sei-hoon, who served as director of the National Intelligence Service under President Park Geun-hye’s predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison, but the Seoul Central District Court suspended the sentence. Mr. Won had just been released from prison Tuesday after completing a 14-month sentence stemming from a separate corruption trial.
Prosecutors indicted Mr. Won in June of last year, saying that a secret team of National Intelligence Service agents had posted more than 1.2 million messages on Twitter and other forums in a bid to sway public opinion in favor of the conservative governing party and its leader, Ms. Park, ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2012.
Many of the messages merely lauded government policies, but many others ridiculed liberal critics of the government and of Ms. Park, including Ms. Park’s rivals in the presidential election. Some messages called the liberal politicians “servants” of North Korea for holding views on the North that conservatives considered too conciliatory, prosecutors said.