Skip to main content

South Korean lawmaker Lee Seok-ki jailed for plotting armed rebellion

By K.J. Kwon, CNN
February 17, 2014 -- Updated 1313 GMT (2113 HKT)
Lee Seok-ki leaves the National Assembly building in September 2013, after parliament approved his arrest.
Lee Seok-ki leaves the National Assembly building in September 2013, after parliament approved his arrest.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • South Korean lawmaker Lee Seok-ki has been jailed for 12 years for plotting a rebellion
  • Lee was found guilty of leading a secret group of 130 members with alleged links to North Korea
  • Lee had denied all charges and his party described the case as a "medieval witch-hunt"
  • Critics said it was being used to divert attention from claims the 2012 had been manipulated

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- A South Korean lawmaker has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for plotting an armed rebellion.

The verdict makes Lee Seok-ki -- a member of South Korea's left-wing United Progressive Party -- the country's first sitting lawmaker to be convicted of treason since the 1980s.

Lee was found guilty of leading a secret group of 130 members with alleged links to North Korea.

Tension in the Korean peninsula escalated in early 2013, when Pyongyang declared an armistice agreement between the two Koreas invalid and said it could carry out nuclear strikes against its southern neighbor.

The court was told that Lee thought that the heightened tensions could lead to war between the North and South, and he allegedly directed members of the group to attack major national facilities in the event of such a conflict.

South Korean President on North Korea
Koreas meet for high-level talks
Tension grows on the Korean peninsula

"Piecing together the statements from the informants and evidences ... the defendants are found guilty for conspiring to start riots aimed at subverting the constitution," Suwon District Court said in a statement.

It said a strong penalty was inevitable because Lee's plot "posed substantial and clear threats to the existence of Korea and order of liberal democracy."

Under South Korean criminal law, a crime of rebellion can be committed when more than two people gather to conspire treason.

Lee denied all charges against him, while his party, the Unified Progressive Party, described the case as "a medieval witch-hunt."

Some local media and analysts said the investigation was being used to divert attention from allegations that South Korea's state spy agency - the National Intelligence Service - had been involved in manipulating South Korea's 2012 presidential election.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0948 GMT (1748 HKT)
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0012 GMT (0812 HKT)
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1054 GMT (1854 HKT)
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1431 GMT (2231 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT