SEOUL — Agents from South Korea’s National Intelligence Service raided the homes and offices of an opposition lawmaker and other members of a far-left opposition party Wednesday, detaining three of them on charges of plotting to overthrow the government.
The raids and charges of treason triggered a political firestorm in a country already rocked by accusations that the intelligence agency meddles in domestic politics. Opposition politicians said the conservative government of President Park Geun-hye was trying to divert attention from a scandal involving the spy agency.
The agency said it worked with prosecutors in “conducting an operation to apprehend a lawmaker and related officials of the United Progressive Party and search and confiscate their belongings on suspicion of plotting high treason.”
News media showed agents hauling away boxes filled with documents from the National Assembly office of Lee Seok-ki, one of the six lawmakers affiliated with the progressive party. Party officials vehemently protested the raid.
“Faced with an unprecedented crisis, the presidential office and the National Intelligence Service are concocting a Communist witch hunt,” Lee Jung-hee, chief of the progressive party, said in a statement.
Lee was referring to a scandal in which Won Sei-hoon, former head of the spy agency, was indicted on charges of ordering intelligence agents to start an online smear campaign against government critics ahead of the December presidential election.
Neither prosecutors nor the intelligence service revealed details of the treason charges. The national news agency, quoting unnamed sources, said they are accused of plotting to sabotage communications, oil, and other key state facilities.