A Seoul court on Friday refused to issue arrest warrants for two retired officials of the state intelligence agency suspected of interfering in the 2012 presidential election.
The Seoul Central District Court turned down the prosecution's request for writs for ex-National Intelligence Service (NIS) officials, only identified by their last names Roh and Park. It cited a lack of grounds to believe they are likely to destroy evidence or flee.
Roh is accused of leading other members of an NIS retirees' association to write Internet comments favorable to then ruling party candidate Park Geun-hye.
The NIS official Park is suspected of trying to destroy evidence when the prosecution recently reopened the case at the NIS' request.
Their case is part of a far-reaching election-meddling scandal involving former NIS chief Won Sei-hoon, who was sentenced to four years in jail in a retrial last week for orchestrating the whole scheme.
Prosecutors have found that the agency ran 30 such cyber teams to influence public opinion from 2009-2012 under Won's direction. It named some 48 team leaders, and Roh and Park are the first of those to be arrested.
The prosecution has questioned more than 10 NIS officials and cyber team heads, and raided dozens of locations related to the secret operations.
Prosecutors said they are looking into other suspects' involvement to decide whether to seek arrest warrants for them. The team leaders could be charged as Won's accomplices, according to the prosecution.
Park won the 2012 election but was ousted for corruption and abuse of power in March this year and now stands trial. (Yonhap)