SKorean lawmaker loses seat over Samsung wiretaps

February 15, 2013 by Youkyung Lee

(AP)—A South Korean lawmaker known for criticism of the Samsung conglomerate has forfeited his seat in parliament after the Supreme Court ruled he violated communications laws by publishing incriminating wiretaps of conversations between Samsung officials on the Internet.

's top court upheld a lower court's conviction of lawmaker Roe Hoe-chan and a suspended prison sentence. He published transcripts of conversations between an aide to Co. chairman Lee Kun-hee and Lee's brother-in-law that were recorded by national intelligence agency wiretaps. The conviction disqualifies Roh from being a lawmaker.

A press release issued by Roh in 2005 included a transcript of the conversations, which revealed the names of prosecutors who were showered with cash by Samsung. He also posted the transcript to his website.

Roh, who was a lawmaker for the opposition Progressive Justice Party, has been a vocal critic of Samsung, South Korea's most powerful conglomerate, which dominates the country's economy. In testimony to the National Assembly in 2005, he used the wiretapped conversations to call for an investigation into Samsung's relationships with prosecutors. The probe led to the resignation of a vice justice minister but prosecutors only indicated Roh and a journalist for releasing the wiretaps.

Usually South Korean lawmakers are protected by an immunity that allows them to speak freely in the National Assembly without being sued for libel or prosecuted for other charges. At issue was whether such immunity applied to the lawmaker's actions in cyberspace. South Korea's Supreme Court ruled that it did not.

"Unlike distributing press releases to journalists, uploading messages on the Internet allows an easy access to anybody at any time," the court said in a statement explaining its decision. The ruling also said the Internet delivers "unfiltered" information to the public, while the media "select what to publish with responsibility."

Roh criticized the court's ruling as "anachronistic," saying that any citizen can easily distribute or publish information online. He also said his more important role as a lawmaker was to fight against corruption at powerful groups in South Korea including prosecutors, who are the only South Korean officials who can charge suspected criminals and supervise police investigations.

Roh said he did not regret his decision to publish the information.

"If I go back to eight years ago, I would still do the same thing," he said in a statement after the ruling.

Explore further: Samsung to create new office for group affairs

0 shares

Related Stories

Samsung to create new office for group affairs

November 19, 2010

(AP) -- Samsung will create a new organization to coordinate the group's sprawling businesses after a previous one was closed in 2008 amid a corruption scandal that rocked the massive conglomerate.

Samsung to contest US verdict in favour of Apple

August 25, 2012

South Korea's Samsung Electronics said Saturday it will contest a US court ruling that it must pay rival technology giant Apple damages of more than $1 billion for patent violations.

Samsung promotes chairman's son to vice chairman

December 5, 2012

Samsung Electronics Co. promoted its chairman's only son to vice chairman, putting the 44-year-old closer to the top leadership position at the world's largest maker of memory chips, mobile phones and TVs.

Samsung chairman keeps fortune in inheritance case

February 1, 2013

The chairman of Samsung Electronics has kept his fortune and control of the Samsung conglomerate after a South Korean court Friday ruled against his older brother in an inheritance battle.

Recommended for you

Netherlands bank customers can get vocal on payments

August 1, 2015

Are some people fed up with remembering and using passwords and PINs to make it though the day? Those who have had enough would prefer to do without them. For mobile tasks that involve banking, though, it is obvious that ...

Power grid forecasting tool reduces costly errors

July 30, 2015

Accurately forecasting future electricity needs is tricky, with sudden weather changes and other variables impacting projections minute by minute. Errors can have grave repercussions, from blackouts to high market costs. ...

Microsoft describes hard-to-mimic authentication gesture

August 1, 2015

Photos. Messages. Bank account codes. And so much more—sit on a person's mobile device, and the question is, how to secure them without having to depend on lengthy password codes of letters and numbers. Vendors promoting ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.