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Seoul Court Acquits Fake N.Korean Defector of Espionage

RIA Novosti

14:37 22/08/2013 SEOUL, August 22 (RIA Novosti) – A court in South Korea on Thursday acquitted of espionage charges a Chinese national who had posed as a North Korean defector, Yonhap news agency reported.

The 33-year-old defendant, identified only by his surname Yoo, was accused of passing information about some 200 North Korean defectors in Seoul to the intelligence services in Pyongyang through his sister, who was the key witness in the trial.

The Seoul Central District Court pronounced a not-guilty verdict on Thursday, citing inconsistency and a lack of credibility in the testimony of the key witness, Yonhap reported.

“The testimony of the defendant's sister, who is a key witness in the case, is inconsistent and doubtful,” the South Korean news agency quoted Judge Lee Buhm-gyun as saying.

The court sentenced Yoo to a two-year suspended prison term and ordered him to pay a fine of $22,000 for violating South Korea’s passport laws. Yoo was released from the court following sentencing.

According to prosecutors, Yoo came from China to Seoul in 2004, passing himself off as a North Korean defector. In 2011 he was hired by the Seoul municipal authorities to work for a division of North Korea Defector Support.

He was arrested after his sister was detained last year while trying to enter South Korea from China, also by posing as a defector from North Korea.

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