Civic groups hold candlelight vigil against spy agency's election scandal

SEOUL, Aug. 10 (Yonhap) -- Civic groups held a massive candlelight vigil in the Seoul city center on Saturday to denounce the state spy agency over its alleged meddling in the last presidential election, calling for a thorough parliamentary probe into all relevant suspicions.

The public gathering came after the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) launched a street protest last week, accusing the ruling Saenuri Party of attempting to sabotage a joint parliamentary probe into allegations that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) conducted an online smear campaign to sway public opinion in favor of the ruling party ahead of December's election.

The rival parties have wrangled over various terms of the probe, but this week, they reached agreement on many of the disputed issues including a list of witnesses and an extension of the investigation until Aug. 23.

"There are still much left uncovered although a prosecution probe found that the NIS has intervened in the presidential election," the 284 civic groups that organized the vigil said in a joint statement. "We should unveil all truth behind this incident through the parliamentary investigation that has just begun after much meandering."

They also called for an apology from President Park Geun-hye over the NIS election scandal and a full-scale reform of the intelligence agency.

At least 30,000 people took part in the vigil at a square in front of the Seoul City Hall, according to the organizers, while police estimated the crowd at 20,000 including the opposition party members.

Candlelight protests were also held simultaneously in other major cities such as Busan, Daejeon, Daegu and Ulsan.

"We aim to attract a total of 100,000 people to the candlelight vigils being held around the country, including the Seoul Square," a source close to the civic groups said, adding that the rally will continue nationwide in the future.

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