South Korea arrested eight suspects for North Korea spying

SEOUL, July 1 (UPI) — South Korea’s military counterintelligence agency arrested eight civilians suspected of passing military secrets to North Korea.

The suspects were under investigation, according to South Korean lawmaker Lee Wan-young, who attended a closed-door parliamentary briefing on Friday, Newsis reported.

The first four defendants were arrested more than a year ago in May 2015 on charges of espionage and sharing South Korean military intelligence with contacts in the North.

The suspects were found guilty of spying and are “all civilians who made contact with South Korean military personnel for the purposes of extracting army secrets, and to deliver them to North Korea,” Lee said.

Another four suspects arrested in 2016 are under separate investigations on similar charges, local news service News 1 reported.

The most recent round of arrests also involved suspects who attempted to win the trust of military officers to procure classified information, Lee said.

The information that was passed to the North include details on military facilities and “other data,” according to the South Korean lawmaker.

Cases of espionage among South Koreans are rare, but according to a former spy and defector in 2015, North Korean spies are operating in the “hundreds.”

Pyongyang has previously used spies to infiltrate the South and instruct them to commit suicide if caught.

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