UPDATE : 2019.12.10 TUE 15:43
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Prosecutors raid presidential office in illegal surveillance probe

Prosecutors raided the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday as part of a probe into allegations that Cheong Wa Dae may have illegally collected information about civilians.

The prosecution said prosecutors and inspectors from the Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors' Office were sent to the presidential office to secure possible evidence of the alleged crime involving the top executive office.

Cheong Wa Dae later confirmed being raided, adding it opened its doors to the prosecutors.

"Prosecutors and investigators from the Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors' Office executed a search warrant today in relation to the complaint from the Liberty Korea Party (LKP)," Yoon Young-chan, top press secretary to President Moon Jae-in, said in a short released statement.

"Cheong Wa Dae fully cooperated under related procedures," he added.

The prosecution said the raid targeted the office of special inspection, a Cheong Wa Dae office in charge of keeping taps on government and appointed officials to prevent corruption.

Yoon said the prosecution investigators were provided documents and other possible evidence from the inspection office that they requested but were not allowed to physically enter Cheong Wa Dae.

The Cheong Wa Dae official earlier hinted the search may have been limited, saying the presidential office is a highly restricted area.

Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom later explained the materials handed over to the prosecution included desk top computers.

"That is the maximum (level of) information I can provide," he told a press briefing.

The ongoing investigation began after the main opposition LKP filed a complaint against top presidential officials, including chief of staff Im Jong-seok and Cho Kuk, top secretary to President Moon Jae-in for civil affairs, accusing them of abusing power and neglecting duties.

Such accusations are based on a confession from Kim Tae-woo, a special inspector from the prosecution, saying he had illegally surveilled many civilians, including a major news outlet and former bureaucrats, while working for Cheong Wa Dae.

Cheong Wa Dae has strongly denied the allegation, instead accusing Kim of having engaged in such activities despite several warnings from his superiors. It has also filed a formal complaint against Kim with the prosecution on suspicions of leaking classified information he obtained while working at Cheong Wa Dae.

Kim was ordered to return to his original post at the prosecution at the start of the month after reports suggested he may have sought to influence an ongoing police investigation involving one of his acquaintances. (yonhap)

Cho kyung-hee  edt@koreapost.com

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