South Korean court acquits Internet blogger charged with spreading false information

SKorean court acquits Internet blogger

SEOUL, South Korea — A South Korean court Monday acquitted a blogger charged with spreading false information on the Internet, in a case that caused a heated debate over online censorship.

The Seoul Central District Court acquitted Park Dae-sung, an unemployed 30-year old Seoul resident. Prosecutors had sought an 18-month prison sentence.

Park, writing under the pen name “Minerva” after the Greek goddess of wisdom, caused a sensation in South Korea last year by denouncing the government’s handling of the economy and making largely negative predictions.

Some of those, including the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers, proved correct, helping spark interest in his online postings and adding to his aura of mystery.

Prosecutors accused him of falsely writing that the government had banned major financial institutions and trade businesses from buying U.S. dollars, and indicted him in January.

Park described himself in Web entries as a former securities firm employee with a master’s degree earned in the United States and experience in the field of corporate acquisitions and takeovers.

But prosecutors said Park was an unemployed Seoul resident who studied economics on his own after graduating from a vocational high school and junior college with a major in information and communication.

Opposition political parties and government critics have argued that Park’s arrest was aimed at silencing criticism of the government and that it restricted online freedom of speech.

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