Presidential Office Denies Snooping on Nation's Judges

Presidential Office Denies Snooping on Nation's Judges

SEOUL, Dec. 16 (Yonhap) -- The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Friday denied an allegation that it carried out illegal surveillance of judicial officials, including Supreme Court chief Yang Seung-tae.

   The claim was made by Cho Han-gyu, former president of the local daily Segye Ilbo, on Thursday during a parliamentary hearing over a corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye and her longtime friend.

   "The suspicion is groundless," a presidential official told reporters, declining to be named. "Cheong Wa Dae has never spied on anybody and this should never happen."

   In 2014, Segye Ilbo first reported on the allegation of the president's once-powerful former aide Chung Yoon-hoi meddling in state affairs based on a set of presidential documents it had obtained. Cho cited some of the unreported documents to back his claim about the illicit surveillance.

   Cho called the alleged monitoring of judges an illegitimate act that "trampled on" the constitutionally guaranteed separation of powers among the government, legislature and judiciary.

   Following the revelations, the Supreme Court expressed displeasure, saying if the allegations prove true, the illegal surveillance runs counter to the constitutional principle of judicial independence.'

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