Group Forms to Aid S. Korean Indicted for Espionage

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A group of Korean scholars recently launched a campaign to support and vindicate a Korean-American who was indicted by the U.S. government on an espionage charge while he served as a North Korea expert for the U.S. State Department.

A committee in support of Stephen Kim, led by Kim Jae-chun, dean of Graduate School of International Studies at Sogang University, started a Web site at www.stephenkim.or.kr to collect letters, signatures and donations.

His supporters in the U.S. have helped Stephen Kim through the “Stephen Kim Legal Defense Trust” at www.stephenkim.org, but it is the first time people in Korea have launched a campaign for him.

“Stephen Kim has been in a dire situation for something that he did not do and we thought this kind of campaign in Korea is necessary to help him,” Kim Jae-chun told the Korea JoongAng Daily by phone on Wednesday.

Stephen Kim, a senior adviser to the U.S. State Department on arms control compliance, was indicted in August 2010 on charges of disclosing secret U.S. government information to the media.

The U.S. government claims that he “leaked classified national defense information” by telling a Fox News reporter that North Korea would likely attempt additional nuclear tests if the UN passes a resolution on sanctioning the North.

Kim’s attorneys claim that charging him with criminal action for providing the media with information that is publicly accessible violates the First Amendment.

The case has been protracted as the prosecutors are yet to submit evidence that Stephen Kim disclosed the secret information. “That they are not showing any evidence to prove his wrongdoing over the past one and a half years indicates his innocence,” professor Kim said.

Professor Kim said he has been acquainted with Stephen Kim since they studied together at Yale University. The professor said he visited Stephen Kim at the end of last year in Washington and could see the difficulty he was going through due to the legal procedure. According to his aides, Stephen Kim needs to pay over $1 million to lawyers for the case.

Several other academics in Korea joined the professor Kim to help Stephen Kim including Jeong Jong-ho, professor at Seoul National University and Kim Joon-gi, professor at Yonsei University.