Data analysis finds far more political postings by cyber command

By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, March 19 (Yonhap) -- The ongoing probe into the cyber command's online smear campaign has discovered nearly twice as many political writings as those announced in an interim investigation result, a government source said Wednesday, citing a big data analysis result.

The latest finding is expected to widen the scope of officials who are subject to indictment on charges of illegal electioneering, with a final investigation result expected later this month.

The scandal centers on allegations that the defense ministry's cyber warfare command, along with the state spy agency, tried to sway public opinion in favor of then ruling party candidate and now president, Park Geun-hye, through online posts ahead of the 2012 vote.

The Criminal Investigation Command has been restoring and analyzing writings posted online by the cyber command's psychological warfare officials, which were hastily erased ahead of the raid into their office in early November.

The three-month data analysis has discovered about 30,000 political writings by cyber warfare officials, with about 6,000 of them being related to a certain political party or a politician, the source said, asking for anonymity.

The number is a big surge from that of the interim investigation result announced in mid-December, which concluded that the cyber officials posted 15,000 political writings, with 2,100 of them mostly critical of the opposition party.

While the investigation team initially accused a midlevel official of orchestrating the online smear campaign, the incumbent and former cyber command chiefs are also expected to be held accountable for the scandal for the additional political writings.

The former director of the cyber command's psychological warfare team, identified only by his surname Lee, was indicted for ordering his subordinates to post politically biased writings and destroy evidence.

"It seems inevitable that there will be more officials subject to face criminal charges," a senior ministry official said, noting the investigation team is trying to wrap up the case later this month.

Lee, who served from 2010 to late 2013, had briefed the commander daily and delivered missions to his subordinates, according to the prosecution's arraignment released by Democratic Party lawmaker Jun Hae-chul,

"The arraignment says Lee received instructions on psychological warfare from the cyber commander," a senior military official said.

Opposition lawmakers have accused the military of trying to cover up more pervasive election meddling in the 2012 presidential poll, urging Yeon Jae-wook, the presidential national defense aide who formerly led the cyber command between 2011 and 2012, to take responsibility.

Earlier this month, Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said Yeon will have to face unspecified "measures" because psychological warfare officials posted political writings during his term in violation of their obligation to stay neutral.

<All rights reserved by Yonhap News Agency>