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Who leaked the confidential testimony to North Korea?

Updated April. 02, 2014 03:09

한국어

A North Korean defector’s testimony at the second trial of a North Korean spy was leaked to North Korea’s State Security Department and the witness’s family living in the North was investigated. On Dec. 6, last year, the closed trial had only six attendees – a judge, a prosecutor, the witness, Yoo Woo-seong (a defendant), and two lawyers from Lawyers for a Democratic Society. Some 20 days later, however, the witness’s family in North Korea was probed by the North`s State Security Department. The witness submitted a petition to the court for an investigation into how his testimony was leaked.

Though prosecutors claim that the leak is not confirmed, it cannot be dealt with lightly. At the petition, the witness’s daughter makes very specific statements. According to the petition, his daughter living in Hamgyong Province, North Korea called him on Jan. 6 and said, “(Three days ago,) I was investigated at the political dissident division of the State Security Department. They said you did bad things that undermine the authority and dignity of our country at a trial. They said they will not spare my brother and me if you do harm to our country in South Korea.” The political dissident division is an entity that hunts out political dissidents and tracks the whereabouts of North Korean defectors.

The witness, a former North Korean agent of the State Security Department, was guaranteed to have personal security in return for testifying Yoo’s spying allegations. He testified that Yoo’s brother, ethnic Chinese, crossed the river to the North with information on North Korean defectors and the exact spot where he crossed the river. The witness said, “It is very weird that how the State Security Department knew that I changed my name and attended the trial, and then investigated my family.” The trial had only six people. If the judge, the prosecutor, and the witness are excluded, only three could have leaked the information.

The witness is classified as a “top” security subject and has been tightly guarded by three policemen for 24/7 since his defection to South Korea in 2003. He changed his name and uses his mobile phone in other person’s name to hide his identity. He said, “I regret thousand times that I testified at the trial.” In developed countries, those who threaten a witness’s family in a trial face more severe punishment. As the survival of his family remains unknown, prosecutors and the National Intelligence Service should find out who leaked the information.

When a North Korean defector is identified, his or her family in the North is often blackmailed. Since 2012, some 100 North Korean defectors have reported that they had been forced to return to the North by the State Security Department. This is probably why North Korea sends spies who disguise themselves as defectors to the South to control North Korean defectors in the South.