A South Korean university lecturer accused of spying for North Korea since the early 1990s has been indicted on espionage charges, prosecutors said Thursday.
The suspect, identified by the surname Lee, was charged with giving North Korea confidential information, including the locations of key South Korean military facilities and an army operations manual, prosecutors in Suwon, south of Seoul, said in a statement.
The 37-year-old man, who taught politics at a South Korean university, was arrested on Sept. 11 and indicted Tuesday for violating South Korea’s National Security Law, the statement said. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
There have been several espionage cases in South Korea in recent years. A year ago, a North Korean posing as a defector was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison on espionage charges.
Lee began spying for North Korea in 1992 after meeting North Korean agent Ri Jin Woo while studying at the University of Delhi in India, prosecutors said.
He stored “vast amounts of confidential military information” on compact discs, portable drives and laptop computers, which he relayed to Ri during meetings in China, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand and elsewhere, they said.
Lee gathered the information while working as an army officer, an adviser to the presidential National Unification Advisory Council and at the government-run Education Center for Unification, prosecutors said. He also joined North Korea’s Workers’ Party in 1994 after making a secret trip to the North, they said.
South Korean law prohibits its citizens from making unauthorized trips to communist North Korea. The two Koreas remain in a state of war because their conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953.
– The Canadian Press