Suwon District Court on Thursday issued a warrant for lawmaker Rep. Lee Seok-ki's arrest for alleged conspiracy to overthrow the government.
Following the arrest, the National Intelligence Service will be questioning the Unified Progressive Party lawmaker over the next 10 days. Once their investigation is completed, Lee will be handed over to the prosecution which will then have up to 20 days for investigation before deciding on indictment.
This is the first time for an incumbent lawmaker to be detained on charges of conspiring to revolt.
Lee is currently accused of forming an underground group known as the "Revolutionary Organisation" and devising plans to destroy key infrastructure in the South in the event of an inter-Korean war. Lee allegedly made the plans in concert with some 130 members in a May 12 meeting. He is also suspected of violating the National Security Act by praising or making comments in support of North Korea during meetings in March and August last year.
Just hours after the National Assembly on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to approve the prosecutors' request for Lee's arrest, the NIS seized him at his office after hours of scuffle with his supporters in an unusually speedy manner, citing risk of flight. Lee appeared before the court the next morning for the review of his arrest.
Some 300 members and supporters of the UPP gathered in front of Suwon District Court since early Thursday protesting the NIS' probe and labeling it political oppression. The party's chairwoman Lee Jung-hee, who is a former lawyer, also joined the 20-member legal team for Lee.
The NIS has so far completed a search and seizure at 18 offices and homes, detained three UPP members and plans to summon six other left-leaning activists to question the activities of RO and its possible connection with North Korea.
They believe the transcript of the recorded remarks by Lee during the May meeting will serve as decisive evidence, which Lee and the UPP claim has been fabricated.