Former South Korean spy chief arrested

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A former government spy chief was arrested Friday and charged with plotting to smear President Kim Dae-jung during his election campaign last year.
Kwon Young-hae, 60, a former head of the Agency for National Security Planning, was transferred to a prison outside Seoul shortly after midnight for pre-trial detention.
Prosecution officials said charges filed against Kwon included defamation and meddling in politics in violation of laws governing the agency’s activities — crimes punishable by up to five years in prison.
Kwon, a retired army general, headed the spy agency for three years until he was sacked by the newly elected president in early March.
During an earlier interrogation by prosecutors, Kwon reportedly admitted giving a $250,000 bribe to a Korean-American businessman who falsely alleged in news conferences in Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul in December that Kim’s campaign was funded by communist North Korea.
The accusations by businessman Yoon Hong-joon, 34, were not widely reported in South Korea, which fought a three-year war against North Korea in the early 1950s and remains staunchly anti-communist, and Kim’s campaign did not noticeably suffer.
With his election in December, Kim — a longtime dissident once kidnapped and tortured by government agents — became the first opposition leader to take power in South Korea.