updated 03:24 pm EST, Fri February 15, 2013
Court ruled legal protection in parliament does not extend online
A South Korean politician has lost his seat in parliament, due to methods used in exposing corruption within electronics giant Samsung. Roh Hoe-Chan, member of the Progressive Justice Party, had broken communication laws by publishing transcripts of conversations gained through wiretapping.
The Supreme Court upheld a conviction against Roh from an earlier decision by a lower court in 2011, according to the Associated Press, which means that he still has a suspended prison sentence and has been disqualified as a lawmaker.
The vocal critic of Samsung took the transcripts from recordings obtained by the national intelligence agency, of conversation betweens an aide to Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee and Lee's brother in law. Roh used the transcripts in a press release in 2005, as well as on his website, publicly revealing the names of prosecutors that allegedly received money from Samsung. The courts ruled that, though lawmakers in South Korea are protected from being sued or prosecuted for things said in the National Assembly, the same protections did not apply online, citing the fact that the public can easily get the information from the Internet while the press would have to decide to publish the contents of a press release in order to reveal it to the public.
Roh reportedly called the decision “anachronistic,” as it was simple for the public to publish information online, and that his role was to fight corruption. He did not regret posting the transcripts, saying “If I go back to eight years ago, I would still do the same thing.”