SKorean lawmaker loses seat over Samsung wiretaps

Feb 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: EU Parliament votes to break up Google

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Samsung chairman keeps fortune in inheritance case

Feb 01, 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.

Samsung to create new office for group affairs

Nov 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 promotes chairman's son to vice chairman

Dec 05, 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 to contest US verdict in favour of Apple

Aug 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.

Recommended for you

EU Parliament votes to break up Google

15 hours ago

The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly for the break-up of Google Thursday in a largely symbolic vote that nevertheless cast another blow in the four-year standoff between Brussels and the US Internet ...

Toyota finds new air bag issue, recalls more cars

19 hours ago

Toyota Motor Corp. recalled more than 40,000 vehicles in Japan on Thursday as part of a worldwide scare over defective air bags and is investigating a new type of air bag problem that could lead to further recalls.

Netflix sues Yahoo CIO for alleged kickbacks

Nov 26, 2014

Netflix is suing a former company vice president who is now chief information officer at Yahoo, accusing him of receiving money from vendors he hired to work with the video streaming company.

User comments : 0

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.