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Probe finds 701 more cyber reports

Materials were sent from Cyber Command to Lee Blue House
Oct 30,2017
An internal task force with the Ministry of National Defense, which has been reinvestigating the military Cyber Command’s alleged political operations during the conservative Lee Myung-bak administration, announced Sunday during its second interim briefing that 701 reports were additionally sent from the Command to Lee’s Blue House.

The reports, issued between July 1 and Dec. 23, 2010, are separate from the 462 documents sent between Aug. 1, 2011, and Nov. 15, 2012 that the task force announced in its initial interim briefing last Oct. 1.

It remains unclear whether the reports eventually landed on top of Lee’s desk.

The newly discovered reports detail political views expressed by local celebrities and politicians on their social media accounts, as well as the Cyber Command’s manipulation of online public opinion regarding North Korea’s sinking of South Korea’s Cheonan warship and shelling of Yeonpyeong Island.

The Command also reported to the Blue House how it promoted the Group of 20 summit when Seoul was chosen as the host city, and tried to sway internet users to support the free trade agreement with the United States, according to the Defense Ministry’s task force.

The task force added that the Cyber Command also ran an online news website named Point News from May 14, 2012, to April 25, 2014, using funds from the National Intelligence Service. The accusation was initially raised by Rep. Rhee Cheol-hee of the ruling Democratic Party.

The 701 reports were said to have been sent from the Cyber Command’s Unit 530 to the presidential secretary for defense and the presidential security situation office through an internal communication network system used by the military, known as the Korean Joint Command and Control System. The route is mainly used to exchange classified information such as that needed for military operations, and messages are encrypted.

The military task force has yet to figure out whether Lee was personally briefed about the Cyber Command’s documents. An official who worked in the Blue House at that time adamantly denied the accusation, saying the papers never reached him.

The Defense Ministry’s second chance at digging up its own wrongdoings during the past administration began last month when the ruling Democratic Party accused the Lee government of masterminding wide-range online operations against the country’s liberals.

An earlier internal probe in 2014, held during the presidency of Park Geun-hye, who was elected from the same conservative party as Lee, concluded without finding any link between Lee’s Blue House and the Cyber Command.

Prosecutors launched a separate probe into the case last month.

BY LEE CHUL-JAE, LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]