SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A Seoul courtroom will factor a verdict Thursday on a Eastern reporter charged with defaming South Korea’s president by way of reporting that she used to be spending time with a person throughout a perilous ferry crisis remaining yr.
Prosecutors prior to now asked an 18-month jail time period for Tatsuya Kato of Japan’s Sankei Shimbun newspaper over a piece of writing that discussed rumors that President Park Geun-hye used to be absent for seven hours all the way through the crisis that killed greater than three hundred other folks, most commonly youngsters.
Kato’s attorney stated he is not responsible and that the scoop tale served the general public’s hobby. Critics hyperlink Kato’s case to a string of incidents through Park’s executive that they are saying have infringed upon loose speech in South Korea.
Each prosecutors and Kato have one week to attraction following the ruling via the Seoul Imperative District Courtroom, consistent with courtroom spokesman Joon Younger Maeng.
Park’s executive got here underneath large public complaint for its botched rescue operation throughout the ferry crisis. South Korean media have additionally wondered whether or not Park used to be unaccounted for at the day of the sinking in April 2014.
Park’s administrative center has stated she wasn’t with the person, a former adviser.
Kato’s case is being watched through many in South Korea and Japan because the Asian pals fight to fix ties frayed over ancient and territorial problems. Japan expressed concerns over Kato’s indictment final yr.
Many South Koreans nonetheless resent Japan as a result of its harsh colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945. Ties among the nations have worsened because the 2012 inauguration of hawkish Eastern Top Minister Shinzo Abe, who many South Koreans see as looking to whitewash Japan’s colonial abuses.
Kato’s paper, the Sankei Shimbun, is reviled through a few in South Korea for its proper-wing positions.
Others see the case as a check of loose speech in South Korea.
“Legal defamation regulations like South Korea’s have a chilling impact on freedom of expression and paintings towards the general public hobby via gagging critics and whistle blowers, and stifling a loose press,” stated Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia department of New York-primarily based Human Rights Watch.
In January, a Korean-American lady accused of praising rival North Korea right through a lecture used to be deported from South Korea. Past due final yr, the Constitutional Courtroom ordered the dissolution of a small leftist birthday celebration that officers say recommended a North Korean-taste socialist device.
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