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Rival parties clash over probe into spy agency scandal

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, July 25 (Yonhap) -- Rival parties clashed Thursday over whether the police tried to cover up the state spy agency's alleged meddling in last year's presidential election, leading to a brief suspension of a parliamentary probe into the scandal.

The probe, which began early this month, aims to uncover the truth behind allegations that former National Intelligence Service (NIS) chief Won Sei-hoon ordered an online smear campaign to sway public opinion in favor of the ruling Saenuri Party ahead of last December's presidential election.

Kim Yong-pan, the then Seoul metropolitan police chief, has been accused of downsizing a police investigation into the scandal and covering up its results.

Both Won and Kim were indicted last month on charges of meddling in the election.

On Thursday, the parliamentary probe committee questioned National Police Agency (NPA) chief Lee Sung-han and other senior police officials in connection with the case.

Rep. Jung Chung-rai of the main opposition Democratic Party, who serves on the investigative committee, showed CCTV footage of what he claimed was a meeting at the NPA headquarters on Dec. 15.

That footage backed allegations that the police had tried to cover up and destroy evidence of the spy agency's alleged smear campaign against the opposition party's then-presidential contender, Moon Jae-in, he claimed.

Ruling party members on the committee walked out of the room in protest of Jung's claims. The meeting was suspended for about 20 minutes before the rival parties agreed to resume the probe.

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