3 civic activists sentenced to 12 yrs in prison on espionage charges

A regional court on Friday sentenced three activists to 12 years in prison on charges of organizing an anti-state group and collecting state intelligence at the orders of a North Korean agent. The three activists, including a 50-year-old man surnamed Sohn, were indicted on charges of establishing an anti-state organization, named "Self-reliant Unification North Chungcheong Brethren Society," under the instruction of a North Korean spy in 2017. They are also charged with collecting state intelligence and information on national security over a four-year period, as well as receiving US$20,000 from the North Korean to finance their espionage activities. The accused allegedly shared dozens of instructions and reports with the North Korean spy in codified file formats and attempted to win over politicians and civic activists in areas around North Chungcheong Province. The Cheongju District Court on Friday sentenced the three to 12 years behind bars and took them into custody at the courtroom right after the s entencing. Friday's court ruling came more than two years after the first court hearing on the case, as a result of the accused's strategy to delay the court proceedings, which included filing several requests for recusal and seeking political asylum with the United Nations. Prosecutors had initially indicted a total of four people on espionage charges, but the case for one of them has been separated after the individual filed a request for recusal. Source: Yonhap News Agency